Powers hosts a couple Valley ‘Classics’ with Vindys, YSO

The Vindys – featuring John Anthony, left, and Jackie Popovec – were backed by the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and conductor Erik Ochsner for a concert Friday at Powers Auditorium.

YOUNGSTOWN – The Vindys will spend the summer on the road, touring as the opening act for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo.

Friday’s concert with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra at Powers Auditorium was scheduled months before that tour was announced, but the performance doubled as a fitting send off for the band as a large crowd of longtime fans and some newcomers cheered on the hometown favorites.

The Vindys normally perform as a nine-piece unit – Jackie Popovec, lead vocals and guitar; John Anthony, lead guitar and backing vocals; Rick Deak, guitar and backing vocals; Brendan Burke, bass; Nathan Anthony, keyboards; Owen Davis, drums; Kyle O’Donnell, trumpet; Brian Mayle, trombone; and Garret Kuchmaner, saxophone.

For the Powers concert, they were joined by more than 40 musicians from the YSO and guest conductor Erik Ochsner. The Vindys diverse catalog featuring a wide range of rock, jazz and soul influences took on added grandeur with the larger musical palette the orchestra provided.

The string players made the audience feel the swarm of “Bugs,” the title track from the band’s last album, which opened the concert, and the orchestra made early Vindys’ hit “Classic” shimmer even brighter than usual.

“I can’t believe this is our stage tonight,” Popovec said early in the show.

In between songs, Popovec talked about doing dance recitals at Powers as a child and thanked the crowd for its support over the years. She said she studied Benatar’s voice growing up, trying to figure out how the singer got such a big sound out of that “five foot nothing” frame.

Popovec clearly earned an A in her studies. She can belt it out with the best of them, but she also can deliver a more nuanced vocal. The first half of the concert closed with Popovec singing “What a Wonderful World,” a standard popularized by Louis Armstrong. She made that familiar song her own with warm, jazzy rendition.

Popovec’s and Deak’s shared vocals on “I Will Always Love You More” was a highlight in the second half, and the band closed the night with a rousing cover of ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme.”

The orchestral setting didn’t cause Popovec to tone down her dance moves.

“My dance moves tell them how to play, almost like a conductor,” Popovec said of the guys in The Vindys. Ochsner got a big laugh as her comment inspired him to turn dramatically and give her a stern look.

In addition to his comedic timing, Ochsner had the band and the orchestra working together as a cohesive whole. There were a couple of times where John Anthony’s guitar solos seemed to get swallowed up in the sound of 50 players on stage, but those moments were rare.

It wasn’t just The Vindys’ talent on display Friday. The second half of the concert started with just the orchestra performing Gioacchino Rossini’s overture to the opera “Il Signor Bruschino” followed by the premiere of “Classical Calamities,” commissioned by the orchestra and created by Daniel Perttu.

The work essentially does to classical music what DJs like Danger Mouse and Girl Talk do with rock and hip hop. “Classical Calamities” mashes up two dozen classical works by composers such as Beethoven, Pachelbel, Wagner and Rossini.

It was a fitting selection for Friday’s pops concert. Even if many in the crowd weren’t regular symphony attendees, the melodies that filled “Calamities” would be familiar to most people through commercials, movies and Bugs Bunny cartoons if not concert halls.

It was almost as good as the mash up of a pair of Valley “Classics” – The Vindys and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.

Have an interesting story? Contact Andy Gray by email at agray@tribtoday.com.


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