the ultimate guide to ‘yanni live! the concert event’

Yanni Live! The Concert Event

Sometime back I received an e-mail from Nico, asking if I would be interested to review Yanni Live! The Concert Event on DVD. You know how I feel about free stuff — being a Malaysian and even better (or worse), a Malaysian Chinese.. but in case you didn’t, I ADORE THEM, SEND THEM ALL TO MEEEEE THXXXX!!!!! And so I said yes.

A week later, a package from USA arrived. I was a bit surprised as I didn’t realise that Nico was writing from LA — I’d been communicating with her using Manglish and felt more than slightly embarrassed that she had to witness first-hand my murdering the English language. By the way, was the previous sentence grammatically-correct? Oh well.

Back to Yanni…

Honestly, the guy is nothing to look at. Maybe because I don’t have a thing for George Lam, then again I don’t find men with moustache attractive. It tickles. My sis think he’s sexy though.

But boy, can he make some awesome tunes! I’ve loved ‘Aria’ ever since I first heard it in the British Airway ads. And now you can’t sit in my car without listening to the ‘Yanni Live! The Concert Event’ CD. Certain people can attest to that :D

For more info about the man, you can always check out his Wikipedia entry.

About ‘Yanni Live! The Concert Event’

“Yanni Live! The Concert Event” was filmed in front of more than 10,000 people at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas as part of his Yanni Live 2005 World Tour.

In short, it was a beautiful show. Though Yanni wore a really ugly grey sweater (and that moustache z0mg) but luckily it didn’t affect his music in any way. Guess I’m being rather shallow here, but sorry lah, there’s just something about facial hair that brings out the worst in me.

The atmosphere was electrifying, the timing impeccable, the musicians SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY talented — each and every one of them, the laser show fits in perfectly, the vocals melodious, the instruments eye-opening, the crowd responsive, the music composition flawless! I’ve since watched the DVD over 10 times now, and every single time I felt the same as when I was watching it the first time – in awe. How can some people have SO MUCH talent, it seems almost unfair!!! (until you realise how much hours and hard work they put in to get to be so good, then you go back to watching telly)

Yanni said he was the catalyst to bringing everyone from different countries, culture and musical background together. I think he pretty much succeeded in that area. Throughout the show he was mostly at the multi-level keyboard thingy (I’m not so good with instruments names), and a couple of times at the grand piano. The musicians seemed to be in a massive impromptu jamming session, enjoying themselves and doing their own things that somehow some way magically transformed into a beautiful teamwork piece. That is until you realised Yanni knew every single melody, every single tune, every single time a different instrument is featured… very obvious if you notice the way he air-strummed to someone etc, always in time for the next featured instrument. I mean, of course he should know, the man composed everything. Still it’s a pretty amazing thing to see.

You will also notice that all of Yanni’s songs are infused with different music genre. You could be listening to tribal now, then jazz the next, then something with an Oriental touch, then maybe a little Latin, classical… and in a couple of the songs, all these genres add up to one big explosive fusion performance. Me likey.

Am I done gushing yet? NO! Check out these people with their toys!

Yanni musicians

Okay I know it’s not the clearest photo around, you can see the larger version here. But eh, you try looking for nice photos of them musicians… I e-mailed a couple of them asking for photos, but being so insignificant I don’t really expect a reply. Yeah I know my place in life sometimes :P

See the guy in second row, second from left playing violin? That’s Samvel Yervinyan whom I think is the greatest violinist since… actually I don’t really know of many other violinists, heh. Suffice to say it was a great pleasure watching Samvel play — he was immensely intense, he brought so much emotion to his performance, he had perfect showmanship and his timing was flawless. Yeah he’s no Brad Pitt, but then Brad Pitt can never hope to play the violin like Samvel, at least not in this lifetime. Besides, I’ve always appreciated talent over looks ;) Samvel is from Armenia. I LOVE THIS ARMENIAN! :D By the way he’s only 40 this year lah ;)

See the guy in first row, third from left holding a harp? That, Chen is Victor Espinola, le harpist. He wasn’t half-naked but man, can he play the Paraguayan electric harp! :D

The guy with the afro hair playing the flute is Pedro Eustache. He could blow just about anything you give him :D

The rest were great as well, but I’m lazy to list all of them. You can read more about them at Yanni’s website.

By the way I am guessing that a lot of the songs aren’t new — I’ve not been very much exposed to his music other than the haunting ‘Aria’ courtesy of British Airways. Was going to do a Google search on which songs are new/not, but then I am not the most motivated person I know.

Run-down for each song

As mentioned, I’ve watched the DVD a million times (or 15), and when I listen to the CD I could tell who is playing what and so on. I’m going to write a brief run-down for each song performed at the concert; the order of the songs here are different from that of the CD. For example, the concert’s opening song was ‘Standing in Motion’ but on the CD it was placed somewhere in the middle. Better flow I guess. And a couple of songs were not included in the CD for godknowswhat reason .

Here goes…

Standing In Motion. The opening tune! It’s only 1.38 mins or something like that, with a nice laser show that I could only imagine the audience enjoying when they were present at the concert.

Enters Yanni. Ugly grey sweater must go. Drummer Charlie Adams kicks ass.

Rainmaker. Fast-becoming one of my favourite uplifting tunes. It’s great to listen to in the car especially if you are stuck in an awful traffic jam and about 10 seconds from getting out of your car to bitchslap that mchcb driver who swerved into your lane without putting on any indications. There were kids in her car too! Bloody irresponsible parents. Slap your face and take your baby!

The song has a strong African tribal feel. There was this guy who was blowing hard into a big long thing that it was almost sexual (don’t mind me, I’m repressed). Later I found out that the guy was David Hudson, and that big long thing was a didgeridoo. Very aboriginal (duh).

Then there was Samvel’s first solo, yay! *salivates* Then there was Michelle Amato who sounded like a Greek goddess of love. Then there was this long-haired guy in a red silk shirt who burst out in song and swayed his butt to the music. Hello Victor Espinola! You sure can shake it.

Keys To Imagination. Not one of my favourite pieces. I think I may have heard this song before somewhere, don’t really remember. Maybe it sounds similar to another song that I’ve heard. Felt a bit like a snake charmer’s song. Arabian nights… bonfire… belly dancers… KGB… sheiks… money laundering… see, my imagination is unlocked, mission accomplished.

Enchantment. Yanni on piano! Beautiful soothing piece, contemporary classical+Jim Brickman-like. Reminds me of stories I read as a kid — fairies, magic rings, quaint topsy-turvy houses, toadstools — all things magic. Don’t remember the series of children books I read, but somehow this particular image of the boy who visited the fairies and never came back is strong in my memory now. He wore shoes with long pointy tips.

On Sacred Ground. I felt this song was created to thank the gods for a bountiful harvest. Very pagan :D Alfreda Gerald on vocals and Pedro’s first flute solo, I think. And Dan Lundram on the hammered dulcimer (it’s called the yangqin in Chinese) and a cute Japanese button Sayaka on the violin. She’s Vanessa-Mae-ish, easy and relaxing to listen to. I prefer Samvel’s performances but then their violins may have been different and he started playing long before she was born.

Playtime. My favourite track! Fast temp, a bit of jazz with an Oriental touch. Pedro did amazing things with the saxophone. Ming Freeman, this Chinese-looking dude (actually he’s Taiwanese-Canadian) with straight hair long enough to wipe his nether regions did some funky finger work on the keyboards.

Then Pedro and Sayaka did a mock-battle thing with their instruments. It was so fun to see, as if they made up what they were going to play on the spot :D I like!!

Until The Last Moment. Yanni and Samvel! Slow, moving tune, very apt title. One part of this could almost make you cry, maybe ‘cos there’s so much perfection :D Samvel can play the violin with eyes closed! Then he smiled for a bit and I forgot what else I was going to write :D

If I Could Tell You. Not my favourite track, rather predictable. Or maybe it was just too 80s. I like a lot of 80s songs, but not when it’s an instrumental piece stuck in time. But Ming Freeman’s keyboard-playing was just amazing to see. I used to play some organ so I sort of understand the level of difficulty involved.

For All Seasons. Another one of my favourite fast-beat tempo tune, mostly featuring Michelle on vocals, Ramon Flores on trumpet (we were rather surprised at the sounds he produced with the trumpet), Pedro blowing some stick, Dan hammering the yangqin, and of course, Samvel again :D SUCH GREAT SHOWMANSHIP!

Then Victor played the harp as if he was in trance. Was great :D

The Storm. Alexander Zhiroff solo on the cello. He looked a bit scary — later I found out that he was from Russia, I went, ‘oh that explained it’. Darn talented cellist. Broke a bow string though, keke.

Then it suddenly became a fast temp tune, with solos then a duet by Samvel and Sayaka. If you see the DVD you’ll understand why I said that Samvel is more polished. Not that Sayaka was bad or anything; in fact she was real good but it was obvious that Samvel was the better violinist. So why am I mentioning the obvious? I have an obsession with him, remember?

Prelude. Slow, emotional tune. Pedro played a 3000-year old Armenian instrument, Samvel and Armen Movsessian (also Armenian) on violin.

Nostalgia. Yanni played awesome piano here, his fingers moved so fast for the short notes! Fucking awesome.

World Dance. Absolutely fun tune to watch and listen to! Sort of like an Irish jig, featuring Dan, Pedro, Samvel, Sayaka, Victor, Armen, Zachary Carrettin and Walter Rodriguez.

Awesome songs, great concert.

Yanni said, “The musicians in this orchestra represent a great many of the world’s nations, and religions, and philosophies, and schools of thought, and schools of music. And in their diversity they bring great beauty, strength and colour to my music. Thank you.”

No, thank YOU for the spectacular concert and immortalising it on DVD.

By the way, I dig the new look :)

Yanni shaved

You can purchase Yanni’s Live! The Concert Event via Amazon.com. Link for the CD is here and link for the DVD is here.

k-fed/ ryan star/ samvel yervinyan

From Pink is the New Blog:

When he’s not ruining wrestling bouts, K-Fed is doing his best to ruin the music scene all over the world. The Federline moved his promo tour into Canada where he made a guest appearance on the TRL-like show Much on Demand on Much Music … where the audience was given this instruction by the show’s floor director, “Please, don’t boo Kevin. This is an important show for us.”

LMAO x100000

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I received a preview Ryan Star CD ‘Songs from the Eye of An Elephant’ and I have to agree with eyeris that all the 20 songs sound almost the same. Well, according to Wikipedia, this album was released in mid-2005, so it was before the whole Rockstar: Supernova business. I quite enjoyed the album though, rather mellow, according to Erna he sounds a bit like Five For Fighting and Train (I’ll say a bit of Adam Duritz at times), suits his brooding personality. Still psyched about his showcase on 16th November at Zouk (even though I rather detest Zouk, personal preference, this).

But apparently we have to go as rock chicks (assuming we are all females.. erm what am I talking about, I AM A FEMALE). Well therein lies the problem… I don’t look like a rock chick at all, and there’s no way I am going to look like a rock chick ever. Sure I enjoy rock music, but the rock chick thing is just not in me, especially when it comes to the dressing part. I don’t have anything in my closet that screams ‘holey tart you are so Simple Plan rock chick!’.

Maybe I’ll just go as me. ‘Cos as we all know, me is Suanie and Suanie is great :D

(yeah I’m just writing all this to be able to insert that last line. Sneaky sneaky ;) Oh shut up. )

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This is Samvel Yervinyan.

Samvel Yervinyan

I want to marry him kthx.

this buddhist rants

So THE Reverend passed away, right? Was rather sad and all, but then that’s the cycle of life.

A few people (thanks people) sent me a link to a Buddhist website which is quite informative, got lots of news and articles, all the Buddhism-buddhism stuff. Good on them for propagating the Dharma using the Internet.

But then there was this series of photographs of the Reverend’s funeral, which was supposedly not altered in any way. And one of the focus of the series was ‘balls of light’ surrounding the funeral, particularly at the cremation site. Fuwah, damn miracle all these balls of light, suddenly coming out of nowhere, must be associated with the Reverend ‘cos he was so enlightened and all, will enhance your faith in Buddhism with these miraculous sightings etc.

Some supposedly even saw the Reverend’s spirit being ‘taken to the havens’ by other Bodhisattvas. Their eyesight must have been damn on.

Right, I know it’s a case of wanting to believe what you want to believe. I suppose it doesn’t do any harm, little things like this, as long as you don’t take them too seriously in your path to learning Buddhism. But one thing lah… if the Reverend was still alive, he would have told you to shove it [voluntarily censored by Suanie]. Well maybe in a nicer way.

Back to basics — what is a Buddhist? Someone who take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Senang je aku nak cakap ‘cos in conventional manners, I am the least Buddhist of all Buddhists. Oddly enough, Buddhism saved me (insert teenage wayward sob story here). So I consider myself a Buddhist. Some people won’t because judging by this blog, nay even this very blog entry, I consciously did not observe the Eight Noble Paths (right speech lah, what else).

But I am confident enough to know what to believe and what not to believe. For instance, I don’t really believe that when Gautama Buddha was born, he walked 7 steps, each step blossoming into a full bloom lotus after him. Sure, I studied all that when I was younger, you can’t miss this chapter if you are reading about the Buddha’s life. But it seems that miracles are all it takes to convince the layman that yes, this religion works, that religion works, bla bla. I do believe in miracles, as there are many unexplainable things in this world, but not to the extent of pacifying the layman, to strengthen your faith, etc. Even Jesus got fed up with healing the sick because he knew that it was a cheap way to ask people to believe in you, your teachings. You do get a lot of half-past-six faithfuls everywhere, but who am I to judge, I am probably no better than them in other aspects, so as I was saying…

Buddhists. As a Buddhist (in the Theravada tradition) do not allow these things to influence your faith. Again I would like to quote Venerable Sujiva (whom I quoted in an earlier blog entry) from his book ‘Funny Monk’s Tales’:

So one day I asked the Venerable Dr K Sri Dhammananda what he thought of relic claims. He gave me a distant look and with bulging eyes said, “These are things concerning the devotional aspects of Buddhism. We do not need all these to study and practise the Dhamma.”

That jolted me up a bit. So it’s not so important after all. It’s true, as the Buddha himself said: “He who sees my teachings sees me.” What is important is that we follow the Buddha’s exhortation and practise the Dhamma. So the Venerable Dhammananda’s answer was a good one but I wonder how I can get the message across to those people who still get frenzied over relics. Ah, faith, good faith, you should always come with wisdom, otherwise it can be dangerous.

Change the ‘relics’ to ‘balls of light’ and you get the same context. I recently met up with my friend-turned-Buddhist-monk Bhante Sumana and discussed this with him. Well, more like 5 lines, 3 of which were, “we don’t believe in these things, we dont’ need to believe in these things”, “maybe ‘cos it was going to rain” and “I was there at the funeral, didn’t see no deity!!!”. You get the idea.

But then, I understand that faith works differently for everyone. The Reverend was a great, selfless man, some people may choose to glorify him slightly more than others. Fine. But I just hope that with all his contributions to society at large, all his hard work and efforts in emphasizing the importance of racial harmony, all his publications that stated the same thing over and over again that the Buddha is within you… would be a damn waste to have all that overshadowed by ‘balls of light’.

laptop died/ banned books

My laptop died. Very sad. Luckily it’s still under warranty. But everything gone… all my photos gone… all my music gone… all my documents gone…

Deja vu.

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Oh look, the motivated folks at Manuscripts Don’t Burn came up with this nice nifty banner for their cause.

Bloggers Against Banning Books

Say it loud and clear!

I was reading Bill Clinton’s autobiography yesterday (yes yes it’s been a couple of months, the book is damn thick ok) and I thought I read along the lines of… DEMOCRACY *gasp*

One thing that always weirds me out is that how people always think that Malaysia is a democratic country. We are not, plain and simple. I was even taught in school that we are not fully democratic, we are not fully this or that (but we all know that lah) so bite the stick and move on. Which sometimes is fine by me, because I don’t believe in the notion of free speech (there’s no such thing as FREE), everything has a cause and effect, sometimes the consequences are minimal and not so important, sometimes a seemingly minimal consequence could lead to a larger societal problem later on.

Blah I’m rambling. Anyway shouldn’t we ban Bill Clinton’s My Life as well? I mean, the dude endorsed Al Gore’s kurang ajar’s speech at some global conference held at Cyberjaya a few years ago. That’s like evil, dude… like Saddam Hussein in South Park evil-O-meter. Plus what is this democracy you speak of? Me Malaysian, me no understand. Two term presidency at most? Foreign, damn foreign idea ye foreign devils. Soon you’d have us going around protesting this and that without getting arrested! I mean, the very notion! Scandalous beyond scandalous, so let’s just ban Bill Clinton, yeah.

I was also looking through my library and boy, were there some books that are just WAITING to be banned! Look at Lord of the Rings! For cryin’ out loud, can’t you just SEE that it REEKS with homosexuality?!? Hobbit, hobbit, hobbit, hobbit, Ranger, man, wizard, elf king… all the gory battle scenes are just introduction to anal probing. I mean, shooting an arrow… how descriptive can you get?!?

What about Enid Blyton? Mr. Pink Whistle?!?! Dude… strange man in weird outfit going around talking to little kids and performing magic tricks… erm… what are we waiting for again?

And The Magic Faraway Tree… do we really want our children exposed to incredulous never-going-to-happen fantasies of climbing trees and being exported to foreign lands?!? By golly, soon our kids will think it’s all right to follow a stranger wanting to take them to ‘somewhere else’ with the promise of a candy and a hobbit. Odd connection, but hey, that’s the purpose ain’t it. To prevent something from happening by banning the materials that by no scientific research COULD induce such things happening. Geniuses, we lot.

Doraemon be gone! Dik Cergas be gone! Stephen King be gone (unsur-unsur yang menyeramkan)! Catherine Lim be gone! Amy Tan be gone! Marina Mahathir be gone! Karim Raslan be gone! Lilian Too be gone (with or without book banning :D)! Jeffrey Archer be gone! John Gray be gone! Judith McNaught be gone because we don’t want our women’s head be filled with such preposterous fluffy romantic foolishness. The absurdity!

Sekian.

sick/ mawi still sux/ banned books/ cheers/ finger/ lainie

Woke up feeling like the Cheshire Cat dissolving into a puddle of liquid that eventually evaporates into nothingness.

Hence why I’m still in bed, but unable to sleep a wink.

*****

Hey, maybe that was karma being a bitch ‘cos I bad-mouthed Mawi! That’s pretty fast results :D Doesn’t take the fact away that Mawi still sucks.

Of course of course it’s the people around Mawi that sucks more than Mawi sucks himself (hmmm..). But a man is known by the company he keeps and all that.

Plus it IS sickening to see his face everywhere all the time. As a TV addict, goodness knows how many times I had to do some quick channel-changing for fear of my day being ruined by one of Mawi’s performances aired on TV. The reason I can say this is because there was once I actually sat through a Mawi’s performance (kasi chance mah) and the rest of the day… I don’t even want to talk about it.

*****

Sharon Bakar blogged about Salman Rushdie’s book ‘Shalimar The Clown’ getting banned in Malaysia. Neh, I don’t really care for the guy (but I would love to borrow someone’s copy of ‘The Satanic Verses’ :D), he is only memorable to me for his appearance in the movie ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ (yeah yeah call me shallow).

But then I had a look at the list of banned books (which incidentally was from just ONE distributor!) and I had the shock of my life to see great literature such as ‘No Money No Honey’ and the entire Jim Aitchison’s SPG collection included.

WHAT?!?!?!??! WHY?!?!?!??!

Who knows? Why doesn’t anyone know? Who decides which books should be banned? Did they even read and understand them in the first place?!?!? Is ‘satire’ in their dictionary?!?!?! Who can I write to about this?

Oh the KDN…

(repeat my questions)

IF it is true that SpongeBob Squarepants was banned because he appears (in some seriously perverted minds) to have homosexual tendencies, well why is Smurfs still around? Don’t you know that the Smurfs are communists???

So if the logic goes that based on unreasonable assumptions you are allowed to impose a ruling that nobody else (that matters) understands, I hereby call for a ban on all Malay males from riding motorbikes because they are potential Mat Rempits. And Mat Rempits as we know, are bad. Like, really even though no one bothers to establish safer alternative on par entertainment for them to get off the roads and harm innocent road users or even initiate a research on how you could do all that BUT WHY NOT JUST CALL THEM ALL MAT REMPITS AND TAKE AWAY THEIR BIKES ALREADY! Just because.

Spread the word.

*****

Learnt something new and absolutely fantastic today, most useful if you are a guy and yam seng-ing :D

À nos chevaux, nos femmes et ceux qui les montent.

Translated: To our horses, our wives and the ones who mount them.

*****

To everything else, just because I am not feeling well…

Let me turn it up for you

Photo taken with Kelvin‘s hot and sexy compact cam which I desire like bountiful peaks on Mount Zulu.

*****

I heart Lainie. Lainie Lainie Lainie, we is love you rong time, YAY!