Music Review: The B-52s with the Nashville Symphony

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The legendary party band along with the Nashville Symphony deliver a rollicking night of timeless tunes that'll have you on your feet!

The B-52s with the Nashville Symphony
Feb. 4 – 5 , 2016; All ages
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
615-687-6400 • nashvillesymphony.org
Remaining show time: Fri 8 p.m.
Tickets are extremely limited: $29 – $79

Since 1977, The B-52s have been revving up audiences with their wild concerts. Dubbed the “world’s greatest party band,” The B-52s are legends in the new wave, post-punk and mainstream pop arenas, and their live shows are widely known for being high-energy music parties unparalleled by any other act. For kids and young adults of the ’80s and ’90s, experiencing The B-52s live was the pinnacle concert experience.

When I heard the band was coming to perform with the Nashville Symphony, I’ll admit it was a head-scratcher at first. I’d never pictured The B-52s performing with an orchestra, and in fact, this occasion with Nashville Symphony is the band’s premiere orchestral concert. It proves to be a phenomenal live music experience that’s fun for all ages, and in case you’re wondering, The B-52s still deliver an exciting, high-energy show.

Three of the founding members still tour — Fred Schneider (64), Cindy Wilson (58) and Kate Pierson (67). They present an amazing, crowd-pleasing set of 16 songs for their eager, devoted fans during the nearly two-hour concert. Pierson’s as energetic as ever, and both her and Wilson’s powerful vocals seem even stronger with age. Together, they possess an uncanny harmony in the way their voices virtually hug each other.

The first half of the night features the trio with their own touring band, a tight group of players on keyboards, guitar, drums and bass. Opening the set with “Pump,” The B-52s take the audience on an awesome musical trip back in time with favorites like “Strobe Light,” “Whammy Kiss” and “52 Girls.”

The Nashville Symphony joins the band on stage after intermission to add lots of lush orchestrations for the remainder of the night. David Richard Campbell’s arrangements add a rich dynamic to each song giving listeners an incredible new listening experience on favorites including “Private Idaho,” “Love Shack,” “Roam” and “Rock Lobster.”

Sensing that the crowd of mostly 40- to 60-year-olds felt perhaps too reserved to be up dancing in the hallowed symphony concert hall during the first act (as though it might be improper etiquette?), Schneider beckoned the crowd to its feet at the beginning of the second set. Most of the audience happily obliged, crowding the front of the stage and dancing in the aisles the remainder of the night. That’s the great thing about The B-52s’ music — it’s simply great stuff to dance to, and it’s just fun, silly and sometimes goofy material including songs about aliens (“Planet Claire”) and alien abductions (“Is That You Mo-Dean?”), all with catchy hooks that are fun to sing along with.

There are very limited seats remaining for Friday night’s performance, and it’s well worth the money and the trip downtown to experience The B-52s with the Nashville Symphony whether you opt for a date night with your significant other or you decide to take your kids to see it, too. There were a few youngsters in the audience on Thursday night who were having a big time right alongside their giddy parents!

 

SET LIST

Act I:
Pump
Mesopotamia
Is That You Mo-Dean?
Strobe Light
Whammy Kiss
Girl From Ipanema Goes to Greenland
52 Girls

— intermission —

Act II:
Private Idaho
Lava
Dance This Mess Around
Roam
Party Out of Bounds
Love in the Year 3000
Love Shack

Encore:
Planet Claire
Rock Lobster

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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