Friday night, coinciding with the monthly lunar blackout phase, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and special guests will perform the entire Pink Floyd album “The Dark Side of the Moon” at the Mahalia Jackson Theater.
One of the most eagerly anticipated concerts of the current LPO season, “The Music of Pink Floyd” will feature Randy Jackson, lead vocalist and guitarist for Zebra, fronting a rock band that will accompany the 70-member orchestra. Brent Havens is the guest conductor.
Both sides of this groundbreaking 1973 album by the British group considered to be one of the forerunners of “progressive rock” will be performed during the first half of the evening’s program. Following intermission, the guest musicians and LPO members will perform other works from the extensive Pink Floyd catalog, including familiar selections from their iconic 1979 two-record set “The Wall.”
Starting out as a British blues band in 1965, Pink Floyd evolved into a major force on the international rock scene. They became noteworthy for their psychedelic musical effects, introspective lyrics, sonic experimentation, extended compositions and live shows that featured pyrotechnic special effects and colorful lighting.
“The Dark Side of the Moon,” the group’s eighth album, became one of the most commercially successful rock albums of all time. It sold more than 40 million copies and remained on the Billboard magazine chart for 14 years.
“Dark Side” also yielded Pink Floyd’s biggest hit single, “Money,” which was as much a tirade against the corrupting influence of excessive wealth as it was a showcase for guitarist David Gilmour’s memorable solos and bassist Roger Waters’ defiant vocals.
Jackson and the other guest performers will not attempt to emulate the theatrics of the Pink Floyd core members, although there will be some special effects onstage, Havens said.
“I really dislike the term ‘tribute band’ for us,” Havens said. “For us, it’s more about celebrating the music, because we’re not trying to dress up like the bands whose music we’re playing.
“We’re not trying to do everything exactly the same as them.”
“I think the music of Pink Floyd works really well for orchestration, because it has such a richness to it,” Havens said. “A lot of the synthesizer stuff on the original recordings really fit well within the orchestra. So there’s a whole new color to it. A lot of people come up to me and say, ‘It’s like the original in some ways and is somewhat richer because of what the orchestra brings to it.’ ”
Since 2011, the entire “Dark Side” album has been performed at all of their “Music of Pink Floyd” concerts, Havens noted. Before that, they just played a selection of their songs.
Classically trained at Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music, Havens has brought the music of Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and The Doors to the LPO stage on previous occasions.
Since 1995, his company has performed the music of more than a dozen groups and solo artists with full orchestras around the world in the “Music of ...” series.
Jackson, a New Orleans native whose group, Zebra, has been active on the music scene for 40 years, said “The Music of Pink Floyd” is the second show he did with Havens, after Led Zeppelin.
“What makes this easy for me is that I’m a big Pink Floyd fan,” Jackson said.
“They were one of my favorite groups growing up.”
For this performance, Jackson will not be playing guitar but will be singing and acting as emcee.
“Pink Floyd’s music really lends itself to being orchestrated,” he said. “I’d call it cerebral. I think their lyrics are more philosophical than just basic rock band fare. And the music lends itself to that.”
Other members of the band include Kathryn Key on keyboards and synthesizer, George Cintron on guitar, Dan Clemmens on bass, Eddie Williams on sax, Powell Randolph on drums and Johnny Hines on backup vocals. Key also will sing lead on “The Great Gig in the Sky” from the “Dark Side” album.
The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will perform “The Music of Pink Floyd,” along with vocalist Randy Jackson and a backup rock band Friday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, 1419 Basin Street. Tickets are $20-$99. For more information, call (504) 523-6530 or visit lpomusic.com.