If you like your classic rock done classically, then this is the show for you. It’s Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra currently running at SumTur Amphitheater under the auspices of Rave On Productions.
It was a beautiful night for an outdoor show and I was grateful for the cooler temperatures because Billy McGuigan and his orchestra truly heated up the night. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pop Rock Orchestra show, Billy McGuigan and his musicians take you on a tour of music from the 50s to the 80s, but turn the traditional rock concert on its head by merging it with a big band orchestra of horns and strings to complement the standard guitars, basses, and percussion. The end result is a dancing in the aisle, hand clapping, foot stomping good time.
I sometimes think Billy could create a new show based entirely around his storytelling. He’s a raconteur without peer and never seems to lack a clever witticism, an off the cuff joke, or a poignant anecdote suitable for the moment or number. This, combined with his stellar musicianship, is what makes him one of today’s premier acts. McGuigan seemed extra energized tonight and used that juice to fuel a non-stop barrage of hits that the audience lapped up with a spoon.
Some highlights of McGuigan’s performance were his killer rendition of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting”, a blazing take on Sinatra’s (Nancy, that is) “These Boots Were Made for Walking”, a haunting cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and a spot on version of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World’. McGuigan also featured numbers off his latest album, Together, including a version of “Little Metal Shed” rearranged by local sax legend, Darren Pettit, which tore the house down.
Aside from McGuigan’s powerful vocal chops, we were also treated to excellent featured performances from Matthew McGuigan who had a smooth and elegant interpretation of “My Girl” and Jay Hanson shone in one of my favorite numbers of the evening, George Harrison’s “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You”. Steve Gomez’s musical direction always hit the mark and I thought the fingers of Omaha’s guitar guru, Max Meyer, would burst into flame with the speed and ferocity of some of his guitar solos.
A few instances of instruments overwhelming the voices of singers did little to stop the storm of this production and you’re going to have a beautiful weekend to take advantage of the final performances of this top flight production. And I hope you will.
Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra runs at SumTur Amphitheater through August 15. Remaining showtimes are Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 7pm. Tickets cost $35 for stadium seating and $20 for lawn seating and can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/billy-mcguigans-pop-rock-orchestra-tickets-153047839207. SumTur Amphitheatre is located at 11691 S 108th St in Papillion, NE.