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!
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 .
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.
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 :)