BWW Reviews: Rain Doesn't Cool off the Legends of Classic Rock with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Don't tell John Elefante that violins don't belong in rock and roll. The former Kansas front man came from a rock band where the violin was essential to the band's sound.

Elefante and the Legends of Classic Rock incorporated the Columbus Symphony Orchestra into a rain delayed set of rock standards during a Picnic at the Pops concert at the Columbus Commons.

At times the sounds of Elefante, singer Christine LaFond, guitarist Michael Johnson, bassist Keith Hubacher, keyboards Tom Lipps and drummer Joey Finger drown out the CSO. However, when the two sounds meshed, the result pleased the crowd of soggy spectators.

The concert was delayed by 45 minute deluge that drove away approximately a fourth of the crowd. However when the storm cell passed, those who waited it out were rewarded with a delightful set.

This summer, Picnic at the Pops has continued to experiment combining rock and classic music. The series opened the summer on June 13 with the Classic Mystery Tour, featuring covers of classically infused Beatles tunes. Ben Folds presented a collection of his songs with a symphonic bent on June 21.

However the Legends of Classic Rock presented a wide variety of standards from different groups. They opened the show with LaFond and Johnson doing a duet on Toto's "Rosanna," one of the few times the band's sound overpowered the CSO's.

However they followed with blistering versions of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and Journey's "Separate Ways," finding that perfect mixture of rock and classical music.

Elefante joined the band four songs into the show, taking lead vocals on his former band's "Carry On Wayward Son," "Hold On," "Point of No Return" and of course, "Dust in the Wind." All four of his songs were penned before Elefante's stint with the band from 1981-84.

Conspicuously absent from the Kansas set list was "Fight Fire with Fire," which Elefante wrote, and "Play the Game Tonight," which he co-wrote. Both songs are Kansas' top charting singles, reaching No. 3 and 4 on the charts respectively.

Elefante also covered Foreigner's "Cold As Ice" and "I Want to Know What Love Is" before returning the lead vocal duties back over to the Legends of Classic Rock.

LaFond did a nice job taking lead on Heart's "Heartless" and "Barracuda" while Finger took over vocalist duties for a spot-on rendition of Aerosmith's "Dream On" before Elefante returned for the concert closing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.

If there is a knock on the June 28 show, it lies in the definition of what is "classic rock." Auto enthusiasts say anything over 25 years old is a "classic" and anything over 50 years old is an antique. By those standards anything by the great bands of the Sixties are antiques while "Karma Chameleon" by Cultural Club is a classic.

However, having a show labeled as classic rock and to leave out the Who, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Pink Floyd and even AC/DC, all of which have songs that would be electric with the power of a symphony behind them, is a misnomer.

That being said, those who braved the storm enjoyed a wonderful night of music and definitely got their money's worth.

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From This Author Paul Batterson

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