Mark this momentous moment: Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll? Meet propriety, sobriety and symphonic soul.
Just might be musical heaven. Or at least a stairway to it.
"It's a rock show, so blue-hairs should bring their earplugs," says Robert Plant vocal doppelganger Randy Jackson, who fronts "The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony," defying concert-going conventions by crossing blue-blood classical with red-meat rock. "You just can't beat it, especially on things like 'The Rain Song' and 'Stairway to Heaven' with an orchestra behind it."
The high-concept hybrid links the Las Vegas Philharmonic to the famed foursome (Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham) via the orchestrations of creator/arranger Brent Havens, who will ascend the podium to guest-conduct Saturday at Planet Hollywood's Theatre for the Performing Arts.
"This isn't a sit-down classical concert or a Muzak version of Zeppelin," Havens says. "It's a rock 'n' roll version of Led Zeppelin with the orchestra wrapped around a rock band. It's a very cool sound."
If you can hum it -- say, "As we wind on down the road; our shadows taller than our soul; there walks a lady we all know; who shines white light and wants to show; how everything still turns to gold," from "Stairway to Heaven" -- you can croon along with the tune because Havens promises a note-perfect reproduction from Jackson and his symphonic backup posse.
"I didn't want to do a reinterpretation because I didn't want people to say, 'Where's the melody I know so well?' " Havens says. "And some of the tunes I couldn't orchestra, where there's the same lick for six and a half minutes. But there's plenty of material in their catalog for us to use, where we worked out the countermelodies and rich harmonies under the structures Zep came up with."
If you can recall it -- say, "Oh, oh, child, way you shake that thing; gonna make you burn, gonna make you sting; hey, hey, baby, when you walk that way; watch your honey drip, can't keep away" from "Black Dog" -- Jackson expects you to zip through your Zep memories. Or, for some segments of his audience, wish they had them.
"When we first started doing it, it was the crowd that grew up with Led Zeppelin," says Jackson, who also performs with his own band, Zebra. "But lately, there's been a lot of younger kids coming, some with their parents, some dragging their parents along."
If you can groove to it -- say, "People talkin' all around 'bout the way you left me flat; I don't care what people say, I know where their jive is at; one thing I do have on my mind, if you can clarify please do; the way you call me by another guy's name when I try to make love to you," from "Heartbreaker" -- you can credit the Philharmonic for readjusting its audience aims.
"Reaching new people is very important to us because we need to have a strong base of audience members before we go to the Smith Center," says Renato N. Estacio, the Philharmonic's marketing director. "Led Zeppelin is not something typically associated with an orchestra. And the musicians love it, they think it's the coolest thing ever. A lot of our talent comes from the Strip, people who are used to different types of playing, so they look forward to these new experiences."
And if you can appreciate this musical mutation -- of, say, "We come from the land of the ice and snow; from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow; how soft your fields so green can whisper tales of gore; of how we calmed the tides of war," from "Immigrant Song" -- you won't be startled by the curious coupling onstage.
"When people first get there, they're not sure what they're going to get," Havens says. "But when that first note drops, it's like, 'Yeah, this is a rock concert.' They're playing their air guitars in the audience. It's in your face. It's wailing."
So coin a new credo: Sex, drugs and symphonic soul.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0256.