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Live: Roy Orbison & Buddy Holly Rock 'n' Roll Dream Tour


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Modern day technology and hit music from the '50s and '60s converged Oct. 4 at the Mesa Arts Centers in Mesa, Arizona as the Rock 'n' Roll Dream Tour featuring Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly came to town. This was a show where no one was clamoring to get backstage to meet the stars though; Holly died in 1959 while Orbison passed in 1988. Still, gracing the stage as holograms, both artists put on a great show.

The way the presentation works is that holograms of Orbison and Holly appear, separately, to front a live five-piece band and two female backup singers. The show starts with the band playing an instrumental version of Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman," after which Orbison's hologram appears for the first time, materializing in such a way that it seems like he's rising up from underneath the stage. The fact that Orbison appears in that manner is about the only thing that indicates that he is in hologram form; otherwise he seems very real. And the crowd treated him as such throughout the evening.

Orbison's set featured a gratifying selection of hits including "Only the Lonely," "Cryin'," "You Got It," "Running Scared," "In Dreams," "Love Hurts," "Dream Baby" and about a half dozen others. Orbison was not known for his stage moves, he usually just stood at the microphone stand and sang, and that is the way he is presented during the show. It is very cool though to see him turn and nod to the band in recognition of their playing.

While Orbison's singing style is mimicked by many a crooner today, Buddy Holly's early take on rock 'n' roll remains a strong influence on many contemporary rockers and his portion of the show captured the energy and fun of the genre that was just getting started in the 1950s. In sharp contrast to Orbison, Holly's hologram, also depicting what his stage show was actually like, rocks like crazy. With his electric guitar ever present, Holly sings hits and favorites like "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be the Day," "Not Fade Away," "Well…Alright," "It's So Easy," "Rave On," "Oh Boy" and many others. Holly also gives the occasional kick and points to the band and it is clear that he was not just a pioneer for his music; he also was among the first to know how to pull off rock star posturing.

There are a couple moments during the show when film featuring commentary about Orbison and Holly is shown; some of the luminaries commenting about one or both of the late legends are Bono, Paul Anka, Don McLean, Peter Asher, Duane Eddy, Tom Petty, Brian May of Queen and Buddy's widow Maria Elena Holly.

As the evening's entertainment began with "Oh, Pretty Woman," so it ended. But the farewell tune was the full-on cut with Orbison on vocals, and adding a nice touch of realism to the show was the fact that the band came forward and took a bow with Orbison at song's end. Alas, after 80-minutes of music, fans had to hop back in the time machine and return to the present day, bringing lots of priceless memories with them.

Here are some of the exciting shows that are coming soon to the Mesa Arts Center:

Oct. 13 - Experience Hendrix (Joe Satriani, Taj Mahal, Dweezil Zappa and many more)
Oct. 15 - Bela Fleck with Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer
Oct. 22 - Lila Downs
Oct. 24 - Dream Theater
Oct. 29 - Frank Turner: No Man's Land
Nov. 16 - Carlene Carter
Dec. 17 - Dave Koz & Friends Christmas 2019
Dec. 26 - Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis

The full lineup of shows coming to Mesa Arts Center can be found here.

Live: Roy Orbison & Buddy Holly Rock 'n' Roll Dream Tour

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