Eric L. Reiner
July 6 - British Rock Symphony? It wasn't nearly as grand as that name suggests - more like a common variety show that offered vacuous versions of songs by British rock bands, accented by cheesey horn arrangements that often were delivered anemically.
Nevertheless, "British Rock Symphony" is how the production that hit Fiddler's Green on Saturday was billed. The ensemble included a punchless orchestra (roughly 50 musicians); a rag-tag young choir; electric guitars, bass and drums; plus a cadre of unemotional vocalists.
Oh, and Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, was part of the show, too, although his stage time was limited to half of the 2-hour program.
Which made for a dreadfully long evening, because when Daltrey wasn't onstage, Fiddler's heard run-of-the-mill vocal performances of the caliber you'd get from a good (not great) club band. One female vocalist poorly enunciated Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." Another's voice rudely jumped - didn't gracefully glide - from note to note on the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood."
Then there was the male vocalist whose high voice wasn't suited for the original melody lines of songs like "Imagine" and "With a Little Help From My Friends." So he took liberties with the melodies and made all his featured numbers sound the same.
The fashion police, had they been on duty Saturday night, surely would've arrested the choir. All 15 or so members wore white shirts - of visibly different fabrics. And some were long-sleeved while others had short sleeves. A couple were distinctly off-white. Quite amateurish.
Fortunately, Daltrey turned in a strong performance. He twirled his microphone by its cord (a trademark of his) and played some powerful accoustic guitar on "Who Are You.".
The crowd loved singing the lyric, "You better, you better, you bet," with Daltrey, and many folks stood - some even danced - to "Pinball Wizard."
As soon as Daltrey began lamenting "See Me, Feel Me," which turned out to the anthem of the night, one balding fan jumped up and flashed peace signs. By the time Daltrey's voice was powering the climax-building "Listening to You" finale, much of Fiddler's was standing. Big cheers came at song's end.
Daltrey belted and roared on "Love, Reign O'er Me," and he burned with passion when he melodically power-screamed, "LOVE"
Daltrey also sparkled on Pink Floyd's "Money," which he sang with a healthy grit in his voice.
But when Daltrey was offstage, the British Rock Symphony's show was lame.