(Palace of Auburn Hills, MI - June 5th, 2009)
Born and raised in Kalamata, Greece, Yanni Hrisomallis (pronounced Chrysomallis, more or less!) followed other paths before his music became his primary focus. The self-taught pianist, keyboardist, and composer, who earned Grammy nominations for his 1992 album, 'Dare to Dream,' and the 1993 follow-up, 'In My Time,' is back out on tour and with a new album to promote, has changed things up a little too!
Coming out on stage tonight at 7.45pm precisely, the now short-haired Yanni proceeded to play 3 songs by himself behind the piano, before introducing himself to the crowd. That garnered a nice response back from the relatively half-attended venue that had him grinning from ear to ear. "Sorry Detroit, I have been away for so long, but I promise to return sooner the next time."
Dressed all in black with a long sleeve shirt, his sleeves pushed up to the elbows, Yanni told us we would be hearing a mix of classic songs with some new selections thrown in. And so, the perpetually grinning keyboardist led a pitch-perfect orchestra through two sets of his New Age music, accompanied by videos of the monuments of nearly every human spiritual tradition as well as the requisite simulations of moon, stars and crashing waves.
It was then that he introduced his singers, one by one as they performed their songs. First was Venezuelan-born Ender Thomas, who for the most part, took over the Spanish-themed portions of the show. With his flowing dishwater blonde hair and the Spanish in his voice, he knew how to work over the crowd; which the ladies really showed their collective approval for too!
Another successful musical choice was Nathan Pacheco, whose operatic arias played off Yanni's simple melodies and basic rhythms, rather than following them. But, and most prominently featured was the young lady simply named Chloe, who alternated heavy bouts of upward-gazing singing with some mightly suggestive dancing!
After the 15 minute intermission, the opening song of the second set had Yanni at the piano while a balance beam was brought centerstage. After a few bars entering from stage left, a young lady in black took to the beam to perform while Yanni played a soft, somewhat easy going accompanyment. While I have never seen this before it seemed somewhat awkward at first, but slowly won over the crowd. Indeed, by songs end the crowd was yelling for more!
Yanni himself, was in great spirits throughout the show, constantly contributing a swarm of finger movement through the air; sometimes at the singers to rise, rise, and raise their voices higher, and sometimes, well, because he was simply in his own musical moment. As we headed into the final bend of the show, Ender sang a song about a homeless child ('Angel') which although was sung in Spanish seemed to strike a chord with the crowd in general. Come the end of the show, Yanni once more stated that he would not leave it so long before returning once more to the area.
Review and Photos by: Ramon Trevino, Jr.