Saturday’s greatest hits display by the Chicago tribute band uncorked old favorites from the platinum-selling classic rock group in symphonic fashion. The review and photos.
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Maybe Brass Transit isn’t Chicago, but the crowd at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids on Saturday night didn’t seem to mind.
And well they shouldn’t, as the crack band from Toronto more than does justice to “Saturday in the Park,” “Free” “Beginnings” and other hits by the original “rock band with horns.” Its brassy bite was bold and the rollicking rhythm section was outstanding, while the vocals recalled Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera in their prime.
While a tribute band, the group’s prowess goes beyond recreating songs note for note that someone else made famous.
Frontman Ian Jutsun’s vocals were strong and assured as he played to the crowd. Bandleader Tony Carlucci’s trumpet soared above everything, while the supporting harmony vocals, rhythm and other horns all more than did their part.
Oh, and their backing band was pretty good, too: The Grand Rapids Symphony added a rich layer to the show, with strings, woodwinds and the occasional glockenspiel giving the show an extra dimension. The arrangements, many by keyboardist Don Breithaupt, added colors that somehow fit right in.
The average age for classical music and symphonies has always skewed older, and given that Chicago’s salad days were in the ’70s and ’80s, so too, does its audience. So yes, most of the crowd boasted gray hair and an AARP card. So what? They were just as enthusiastic as a crowd could be, with several standing ovations for the band and symphony.
Ovations that were well-deserved.
Brass Transit is comprised of some of Toronto’s best musicians, who contribute to numerous recordings and studio sessions and have parallel solo or band careers, contributing to new recordings by Marc Jordan, Monkey House and others. In their tribute show, they bring the goods, with reverence for the originals and plenty of energy.
There were some concerns with the sound: Jutson’s leads were overpowering at times, the drums were always thunderous, and Doug Gibson’s trombone was too far in the background, as was the symphony.
But those are quibbles. It’s obvious the band loves the music they’re playing as much as the audience, and that mutual feedback enhances the show. Add an orchestra as the cherry on top, and a great time was had by all.
Come back to Local Spins for photo recaps of other weekend shows.
PHOTO GALLERY: Brass Transit & GR Symphony at DeVos Performance Hall
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker