By MIKE CHAIKEN
For a band born in the age of punk, 1976, the concept of an evening of orchestral renditions of U2’s catalogue seems a bit incongruous.
But after the rough and tumble guitar-bass-drums of their debut, “Boy,” the band began to experiment with sound. And as their career progressed, they became more accomplished songwriters and even earned some Grammys along the way.
And according to vocalist Brody Dolyniuk, who performs with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on Saturday in “The Music of U2,” the merger of an orchestra and a rock band to perform the music of Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen works “really well. You might be surprised.”
The show, which has traveled the country, is arranged and conducted by Richard Carsey. It features a full rock band, which will join the HSO to play the music of U2. The songs featured at The Bushnell in Hartford will include “With or Without You,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Pride (In the Name of Life),” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Desire,” “One,” and more.
Brody, calling from his home in Orange County, California, said the song selection from U2’s catalogue provides the ensemble with a good deal of “musical moments” that can be transformed for the melding of rock band and ochestra.
For instance, he said, “One” is effective with an orchestra. Even the angry, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from the band’s third album, “War,” with its use of violins makes sense with an orchestra.
“There are enough little nuggets,” said Brody.
Brody sings the melodies of Bono, but he said he doesn’t step up on stage as an impersonator and does not become the character “Bono.” Throughout the evening, he said, he is Brody Dolyniuk as he approaches the material.
Like Bono, however, he is a high tenor, said Brody—who also performs similar shows featuring the music of Led Zeppelin and Queen. “We’re singing from a similar place.”
But, he said, “I’m not forcing (myself to sound like Bono)… I’m 100 percent me.”
“I’m a fan of the music. I can relate to it… But I sell the songs as Brody.”
Bono, said Brody, is a “very deceptive singer… You might not think so since he’s not about the rasp or the scream.”
However, said Brody, Bono’s melodies are some of the hardest to perform. He has a very powerful voice at the top of his range, said Brody. It’s such a high range that even Bono has had to transpose the songs down the scale as he’s gotten older.
As for his own favorite U2 song, Brody cited “In God’s Country.” Brody said he’s glad that he has been allowed to perform that song in the show. The song, “Walk On” is another favorite. “I love it. It’s tremendous. Powerful. I get up caught up in it and emotional (when I sing it).”
Brody has made his musical career performing with cover bands in Las Vegas. Stepping on stage with a 50 to 60 piece orchestra, however, was “daunting at first.”
Although he is a classically trained musician, performing with an orchestra “ups your game” because now you’re performing with some of the best professional musicians around.
When he’s on stage, he said, he concentrates on his part of the performance. But he loves when he gets to step aside and let the orchestra take over. These are the moments when he considers himself most lucky to have this opportunity to stand on stage with a symphony.
“It’s overwhelming at times,” said Brody.
Performances such as the one with the HSO are great because they gather a diverse audience in one place for the evening, said Brody. The fans of the music of U2 come out to the show and they get to mingle with fans of the orchestra, said Brody.
“This makes it all worthwhile,” said Brody.
As part of its POPS! Series, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents “The Music of U2” on Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mortensen Hall, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford.
Tickets begin at $23. Student tickets are $10 and $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under.
For tickets or information, call (860) 987-5900 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.