Be a part of a musical first this week when the "world's greatest party band," The B-52s, comes to Music City for two concerts with the Nashville Symphony on Feb. 4 and 5. What makes this concert special is that it's the first time in The B-52s' 40-year history to perform with an orchestra along with their own band. It's sure to make for a fun, memorable date night with your significant other, although you can bring the kids along, too.
Having sold more than 20 million albums since their 1976 formation, The B-52s first hit the music scene as a new wave/post-punk band prior to becoming a mainstream phenomenon with 1989's landmark Cosmic Thing
album containing mega hits like the title track, "Love Shack," "Deadbeat Club," "Channel Z" and "Roam." Other favorites among the band's fans are earlier hits, including "Rock Lobster," "Private Idaho," "Quiche Lorraine," "Strobe Light" and "52 Girls."
If you've ever been to a B-52s concert, you're already familiar with the band's high-energy live shows that truly are big music parties where everyone's encouraged to get up, dance and sing along ... and during the height of The B-52s' career and heavy touring seasons, it was a common scene for the band to have fun tossing beach balls into the audience.
Even though the band's remaining touring (and founding) members — Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson (Keith Strickland is still a member of the group, but he retired from touring in 2013) — are each in their 60s now, they might not be throwing beach balls off the Schermerhorn stage, but it's still bound to be an unforgettable live music experience.
"We're their first orchestra show! We're the very first one so we have brand new arrangements that were written specifically for us," says Vinay Parameswaran, Nashville Symphony's associate conductor. "Maybe they'll use the arrangements again later down the road, but I think it's exciting that the Nashville Symphony's their orchestral debut!" he adds.
While some artists and songwriters create songs with strings and other orchestral instruments in mind when they write particular songs (even if those instruments don't wind up in the final recording), Parameswaran says that's certainly not the case with The B-52s, and he finds it exciting to present this show to the Nashville audience.
"They'll bring their touring band, and they hired an arranger to fill in the rest with the Nashville Symphony. We'll have the full orchestra on stage — full strings, winds, brass and percussion. It'll be full force!" says Parameswaran. "There are so many great colors in the orchestra, and I think that will highlight those songs in different ways and make you hear things in a whole new way," he adds.
For long-time B-52s fans, and for anyone who has not yet been to a pops-style concert with the Nashville Symphony, you can look forward to a specific musical journey. "I think it's a really interesting thing to see the orchestra combined with a rock band. It's a really unique experience because you hear so many different things that you wouldn't hear at a rock concert at Bridgestone," says Parameswaran.
While this show is bound to be a great parents' night out opportunity, it's an outing you might consider sharing with your kids, too. "I agree with making this a family affair because The B-52s is such an iconic band with such a unique sound, and some of their songs, like "Love Shack," are timeless. If I had kids, I'd certainly bring them to this show — combining an orchestra and a rock band is a particular sound that you're not going to get at another live venue. It's meant for all ages," says Parameswaran.
IF YOU GO:
The B-52s with the Nashville Symphony
Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
615-687-6400 • nashvillesymphony.org
Tickets: $29 - $79