They were two of the most iconic figures in popular music history with musical styles that couldn't have been any different.

But both David Bowie and Prince had two things in common: the innate ability to create - not imitate, and a much too early departure from this planet.

This past Saturday night, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra welcomed Jeans 'n Classics, a touring group that specializes in putting a new spin on some of the most recognizable pop music of all-time, to the Washington Pavilion, in Sioux Falls, for 'Bowie and Prince' - a show honoring the two legends and their music.

Full disclosure here: I had never attended a symphony event before, and did not realize Jeans 'n Classics even existed. I was expecting an evening of orchestral takes of David Bowie and Prince, sans vocals.

It was very apparent from the very beginning of the show that I was so wrong.

The Jeans 'n Classics band, complete with lead and bass guitars, keyboards, and drums were front and center, backed by the symphony. A pair of lead singers (Jean Meilleur singing Bowie, Gavin Hope handling Prince) and a trio of backing vocalists provided the lyrical interpretation.

When they launched into the first number, Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel', I was concerned that the band was going to overpower the orchestra, but within the first few songs the two stuck the right balance.

The smooth sounds of the symphony really began to emerge on Bowie's 'Ashes to Ashes' and Prince's 'I Would Die 4 You' and later turned Bowie's classic 'Space Oddity' into something truly special. Definitely the highlight of the evening!

For 'Nothing Compares to U', the musicians chose to go with the duet version Prince cut with his side project, The Family, not the solo version Sinead O'Connor topped the charts with in 1990. It gave the song a whole new feel, to everyone other than Prince diehards familiar with the original.

Meilleur was quick to point out that the evening was not meant to be an imitation of the two legends, but rather a celebration of the rich musical treasures David Bowie and Prince left us with when they passed away.

Mission accomplished.

SETLIST:

  • 'Rebel Rebel'
  • 'Let's Dance'
  • 'Blue Jean'
  • 'Ashes to Ashes'
  • '1999'
  • 'Little Red Corvette'
  • 'Diamonds and Pearls'
  • 'When Doves Cry'
  • 'I Would Die 4 You'

(INTERMISSION)

  • 'China Girl'
  • 'Suffragette City'
  • 'Space Oddity'
  • 'Changes'
  • 'All the Young Dudes'
  • 'Let's Go Crazy'
  • 'Raspberry Beret'
  • 'Nothing Compares to U'
  • 'Baby I'm a Star'

(ENCORE)

  • 'Purple Rain'

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