Yanni Bares His Soul, Upper Lip in Miami; Debuts Song, "Ride from the Lobby to Floor 32"
"HOLY live-at-the-a-CRAP-olis! It's Yanni, bitch!"
On Saturday, Yanni gave the final performance of a two-day run of shows at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. Billed as "An Evening with Yanni," there was no opener, unless you count millennia of human cultural history. Shout out to Ancient Greece.
Now, he may have shaved off his famous mustache, but Yanni still gives his fans what they want, short of dropping his shorn whiskers on them like confetti during the encore, that is.
"¿Cómo están?" Yanni asked, greeting his fans with a level of respect that the vosotros form does not allow. What followed was nearly two hours of hits like "Plinky Thing with Female Vocalist" and "Enhanced Interrogation Technique."
Photo by Alex Ulianov Yanni pointing at someone, epically.
Yanni plays generally epic instrumental New Age music, synthesizer and string-heavy songs that bridge the gap between the classical and popular traditions. But no one needs to tell you that; his Live at the Acropolis album from 1994 sold more than seven million copies and the video version is estimated to have been watched by half a billion people.
He has fared much better than the other hitmakers from that year. Whither Rednex and All-4-One? We haven't heard much from Jeff Buckley since then. Nor the band behind the other big live release from 1994, Nirvana's Unplugged. They just keep releasing archival material, whereas Yanni has put out 13 new albums since the mid '90s.
Yanni was dressed in a black t-shirt, white track pants, and some kind of orthopedic cosmonaut boots. Though he still, one assumes, dyes his hair, Yanni has trimmed back the mustache, let it go grey and now sports a close-to-the-skin goatee. He frequently ran between his keyboard setup and a piano, often clapping his hands together and bowing to the crowd.
For most of the concert, Yanni played with one hand and used the other to pluck an air harp or point approvingly at one of the members of his 13-piece backing band (not counting the two female vocalists who joined him on a few songs). Standing between his keyboards, he often bounced in place, spun, and made gestures that, had the keyboards suddenly vanished, would have made him look more like the leader of an intermediate Zumba class than a world-conquering star.
In between songs, he would shake his hands as though they were four-barreled smoking guns and make proclamations like, "Too hot!" Speaking to the crowd, Yanni was often out of breath, although this may have been an indicator of some perversion or larger health problem, rather than mere exertion.
"Of all the forces that are exerted on us in our lifetime, the most powerful -- at least for me -- is love," he panted. "This is 'Felitsa,' for my mother."
Greek by ancestry, Yanni now calls Florida home. Many will remember the 2006 domestic violence charges (eventually dropped) after his girlfriend called 911 from his house in Manalapan. Danger is an often-overlooked quality of Yanni's music, though this was on display as the lobby signs warned of "Haze Effects" that would be implemented during the performance. These turned out to be a fog machine that ran fairly regularly on a low setting. It resembled less fog than staying in the shower too long while applying a prescription shampoo.