Will Flashback really deliver a classic rock experience? 

What If ...

In the 30-second spot, a radio announcer asks, "What if Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin had performed together live on stage ... joined by Jimi, Janis, The Doors, and other rock giants? You're about to find out." He goes on to promise the "classic rock experience" from the world's "greatest rock musicians and singers."

Flashback: The Classic Rock Experience — featuring a rotation of singers, bassists, guitarists, organists, violinists, and sax players called The Mystic Orchestra, led in part by former Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron — faces a terrific challenge on Thurs. Sept 11 in North Charleston. How can anyone play the "what if?" game so seriously and confidently?

Rick Bowen, founder and creative director of the three-hour, multi-media spectacle, assures that it's all cool. "The intention is to present the music like it's never been presented before," he says. "I wanted to do it even better than done originally. We have the world's greatest players, who studied every move the classic bands ever made."

According to the program, the first half of the show features various lead singers swapping duties on such hits as The Doors' "Light My Fire," Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," Hendrix's "Purple Haze," Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water," Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild," Rod Stewart's "Maggie May," Three Dog Night's "One," and many others.

The second half of the show includes "something never before attempted in the rock 'n' roll universe: Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd playing together."

Hmmmm ... it looks an awful lot like an extravagant version of Piccolo Spoleto's Rock 'n' Roll Heaven. Or maybe it's more along the lines of a reenactment of Zep's The Song Remains the Same, the Rolling Stones' Rock 'n' Roll Circus, or The Band's The Last Waltz.

It's easy to imagine what it really might have been like if, say around 1973, "Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin had performed together live on stage." It's likely that Page would have tripped over Gilmour's pedals while doing the solo to "Whole Lotta Love," on which Mason and Bonham would have synched up on the Ludwigs, Premieres, and gongs, while Waters riffed wildly on his Fender Precision with Jones on his Fender Precision (almost competitively), under the raspy howl of Plant, who would have knocked Wright from his keyboards with violent twirls of the mic chord, all while the acidic spirit of Syd hung in the air, which would have segued nicely into a loud and inappropriately bluesy jam based off a sloppy rendering of the intro of "Interstellar Overdrive," which would confuse Plant, who'd already be hollering, "I'm never, never, never going to leave you, babe," gradually dissolving into a lumbering but beefy version of "Dark Side of the Moon."

Keeping the "what if?" game alive, Hendrix would likely have played some wah-wah solos and set Page's Marshall amps alight, Joplin would probably have grabbed Mason from his kit and dragged him backstage for a snog, and Manzarek, Kreiger, and Densmore would have been tending to a passed-out Morrison side stage, in full view of the audience. Let's see if Flashback can top that on Thurs. Sept. 11.

Flashback: The Classic Rock Experience plays at the North Charleston Coliseum (5001 Coliseum Drive, 843-529-5050) at 8 p.m. on Thurs. Sept. 11 (rescheduled from Fri. Sept. 5). Tickets are $58, $38, $28, and $18. Visit www.myspace.com/flashbacktour and www.coliseumpac.com for more.


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