The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra have begun another exciting run at the Regent Theater in Arlington, Massachusetts. Last night’s show was full of the energy, talent, and fun bombastic classic rock the URO have become known for.
For the uninitiated, Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra is band made up of some of Boston’s best musicians and singers. They can perform any song, no matter how challenging, from the classic rock lexicon with a flair for detail, colors and tones, and energy. Multiple lead vocalists ensures a rich chorus on each and every number. It just a concert of rock music brought to vivid life with a detailed discipline like a symphony orchestra.
URO opened their concert with The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Seven vocalists traded up on the lead vocal and rocked the chorus with a huge rich sound. Lead guitarist Clinton Degan was on fire, playing an exciting take on the lead guitar phrase, as if his melody was a laser cutting its way through the sonic structure. Also marked by outstanding ensemble work. each singer and musician held up his or her own end to make this song come across with fulfilling sonic structure.
After experiencing the first song, newcomers are likely to feel amazed and excited about what’s to come, and they are likely to be overjoyed as things get more exciting, impressive, and energized. Linda Twiss and Kyle Martin came up to the main microphones to front on “Behind Blues Eyes,” trading Twiss’s softer timbre with Kyle’s muscular vocal phrases. URO’s leader Sal Clemente nailed the acoustic guitar backbone behind the voices, maintaining a presence among empowered lead guitar, bass, and drums.
Keyboardist Ernie Cataldo, known as The Professor in this show, came up front to belt with power pop passion on The Who’s signature hit song “Pinball Wizard.” Bass guitar man Doug Crawford and drummer Alan Ware put a nice rumbling low end quality behind the Professor. Fitting, as The Who’ sound was created as much by its infamous rhythm section as it was it legendary front men.
Segue into David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and the entire vibe swiftly changed from hard rocking energy to eerie melodic atmosphere. New URO singer Mike Leonard crooned the beautifully frightened verses with a pure, rich timbre. Queen’s “Killer Queen” got a tremendous boost from vocalist Christie Beaulieu who purred with a rich sensuous timbre. Beaulieu handled this song better as the sole lead vocalist than how the URO previously performed it with her and two other singers trading up on lead. Guitarist Clinton Degan nailed Brian May’s candy sweet lead guitar phrase.
Singer Mike Leonard had the right voice to deliver Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.” It’s the details of these classic rock numbers, which the URO gets right, that sold the audience. Fatima Elmi and Yasmin Solomon featured their pretty voices on Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream while Degan’s lead guitar played sharp like a knife, precise as a laser. Elmi continued fronting on The Beatle’s wild number “Helter Skelter” that she turned into a hard rocking blast belting the intense rowdy vocal.
Speaking of The Beatles’ more wild material, the URO next went into “I Am The Walrus,” with the eerie keyboard sounds handled by The Professor and Christie Beaulieu. Sal Clemente’s lead vocal work carried the range from the assertive odd portion of the lyrics to the soft high notes. “Walrus” is a strange, beautiful song and the URO captured its lilting arc by injecting all of the needed movements within the music. Clemente shifted gears to handle the more mellow pop flow of “Here Comes The Sun,” a number that gave a brief interlude among the quirkier material from the Fab Four. Soon, Clemente and singer Kyle Martin were back in Beatles’ more exploratory faire fronting “A Day In The Life.” Here, the keyboards were crucial to moving this song through its various sections and soundscapes.
The second set opened with only Alan Ware on acoustic guitar, Sal Clemente with an electric, and Kyle Martin at the microphone. The three went into the opening notes of “Stairway To Heaven” as Clemente sounded like an angelic Robert Plant, sweet, mellow flow in his lilting vocal phrase. Kyle too add his own dimension of easeful crooning here. By the hard rocking middle part every other URO member had come out on stage, and Ware had taken his rightful place on the drum kit. Knobby rhythm, ethereal lead guitar, and huge harmony between vocalist made this a monster size rendition.
Fatima Elmi did the lead vocal work on “Misty Mountain Hop” while the Professor kept the keyboard melody pulsating. The musicians rocked on “The Ocean”
Another spattering of classics juiced up the concert. The URO called everybody to their feet for the danceable Bowie classic “Fame.” Here, the low end work of Doug Crawford and drumming of Alan Ware held up everything going on melodically on top while keeping it all very danceable. The entire presentation of this number was quite dramatic and energetic. Yasmin Solomon’s voice was a thing of beauty for the Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky.” Solomon and Elmi recreated that bouncy pop ELO lift.
“Dear Prudence” found Elmi finessing the tender lyrics with her silky timbre while the musicians made you feel the forlorn melodic emotive qualities of the tune. “Fat Bottom Girls” was a fun attempt at the rollicking Queen classic. A major highlight was the URO’s rendition of the Paul McCartney And Wings classic “Band On The Run.” The Professor played the sweeping unique keyboard melody, and Degan played the edgy, atmospheric guitar phrase. The two emphasized the broad expansive sound that McCartney brought to that song.
The URO ended their second set with The Who’s “Who Are You.” Clemente and Martin were strong front men and the multiple backing and harmony vocals brought this intense number to three-dimensional life. Degan displayed his mastery of The Who’s gritty guitar phrase. The band played with eruptive dynamics too, making for a climactic finish to the concert.
The audience was screaming for more by then, so the URO encored with Queen’s huge vocal gymnastics number “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Elegant piano and bass, sweet guitar leads, and an operatic use of multiple rock vocalist brought this tune to vivid life and made for a memorable encore. One of the newer vocalists, Maria Clemente, held her own against the force of nature talent on stage with her.
The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra will be performing a run of concerts until New Years Eve. If opening night was any indication, each show should be a blast for classic rock fans.