I did not know quite what to expect when I went to see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and Windborne Music play the music of the Rolling Stones at Heinz Hall on July 13, having never heard classic rock accompanied by a symphony. Windborne is a group that specializes in orchestral arrangements and covers of classic rock like The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, U2, and Elton John. Fortunately, the orchestra added a nice harmonic layer to a night filled with classic Stones hits mostly from 1969 or earlier.
Windborne wore simple black clothes to match the formal PSO black attire. Multi-colored lights oscillated at different speeds throughout the show and WDVE’s Sean McDowell introduced the show and conducted one of the songs, stepping in for Windborne’s Brent Havens who arranged the music for orchestra.
The frontman performing as Mick Jagger, Brody Dolyniuk, was energetic and had a good voice, though he never captured the raw, mad energy of Jagger bouncing around the stage. Heinz Hall’s opulent setting and the older-skewing crowd at times clashed with music that was clearly supposed to be danced to in reckless abandon.
Dolyniuk constantly sought out crowd involvement throughout the night, but was most successful when he taught some signature Jagger moves to the crowd during “Crossfire Hurricane” and scores of people stayed dancing in the aisles for “Jumping Jack Flash”.
“No expectations”, “Paint it Black”, “You can’t always get what you want”, “Wild Horses”, “Honky Tonk Women”, “Gimme Shelter”, and “Street Fighting Man” were some of the highlights of the night. George Cintron of Windborne played incredible licks all night and played slide guitar crisply on “No expectations”. “You can’t always get what you want” sounds absolutely phenomenal with a full orchestra backing it, as does “Gimme Shelter”, the best performances of the night. On “Gimme Shelter”, Justin Avery, the keyboard player hit unbelievable high notes written for female R&B singers as the hair-raising background vocals. For the final encore, the orchestra and band played “Brown Sugar” off Sticky Fingers (1971).
While cover bands rarely recreate the real thing, Windborne and PSO made some beautiful arrangements and the depth of top notch original material made for a good night of music. Additionally, the subtle touches the orchestra adds give the music a fresher twist for die-hard Stones fans.