In this universe of randomness and inconstancy, absolutes are few and far between. But on Saturday night, Dallas was the site of a once-in-a-millennium cosmic convergence. With the circus in town, Reunion Arena housed the greatest show on Earth. At the same time, just a few miles west, the Bronco Bowl provided the stage for the worst show on Earth.
According to the souvenir T-shirts, the "British Rock Symphony" is "the greatest evening of symphonic rock ever," which just goes to prove that you can't believe everything you read on a T-shirt. This bizarro amalgam presented "over 75 artists and musicians on stage" performing a program of classic British rock from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and the Who.
Of course, no one would come to see 75 anonymous musicians perform symphonic covers of a classic rock station's playlist. Which brings us to Roger Daltrey. The former Who lead singer was the name-brand star dangled from the top of the bill. So what that meant was that instead of no one showing up, almost no one showed up.
It's hard to recall a more embarrassingly scant turnout for a touring production. Whole sections of the seemingly cavernous Bronco Bowl yawned emptily. For the few who did turn out, all those vacant seats were a little unnerving. "What's everybody else know that we don't," wondered one woman, scanning the wide open spaces. "It's sad," answered her friend.
If the souvenir poster's boast of over 75 performers onstage had been accurate, then the show would have been in danger of outnumbering its audience. But unless some of those artists had performing mice in their pockets, that number was somewhat inflated. Still it was a sizable mass of singers and musicians that filled the stage - a dozen-plus chorus, half-dozen violinist and not one but two tuba players.
But despite the name, this wasn't symphony rock. At its best, this was Broadway rock - "British Rock Symphony" sometimes seemed like some junior college production of Rent. But there were only a few flashes of its best; most of the time, this was medley rock, Muzak rock. At its worst, "British Rock Symphony" was like being stuck in a giant Technicolor elevator. But at least it wasn't a crowded elevator.
The only time when the evening actually threatened to rock was near the end of the first hour, when Mr. Daltrey still hadn't appeared. As some young nameless guitarist strummed "Norwegian Wood," the crowd began shouting. "Where's Roger," came one cry. Then "We want Daltrey." As the rumble of "Daltrey, Daltrey," began, other more sympathetic spirits in the, um, crowd, shouted back, "Shut up." For a moment anarchy loomed.
After intermission, Mr. Daltrey did appear and spent the next hour driving a few more needless nails in rock 'n' roll's already hammered coffin.