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Yanni Live! The Concert Event(2005)
How many artists have had their music played at almost every Summer and Winter Olympics broadcast for the past 2 decades? Who has sold out 10 consecutive shows at the Radio City Music Hall? How many performers have had a TV special seen in 65 countries by half a billion people, was one of the top fundraising artists for PBS, and has the #2 bestselling music video of all time? Yanni is an artist who crosses all demographics in his appeal.
For more about Yanni Live! The Concert Event and the Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray release, see Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 3, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray Review
Live at the A-crap-olis? Yawn-i? Sorry, that's the best I can come up with.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 3, 2010
John Tesh used to make frequent—and frequently self-deprecating—appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and I remember one evening he told Conan about how he and Yanni like to play beach volleyball together. Now there's an image: two keyboard-toting, new age impresarios—sorry, contemporary instrumentalists—bumping, setting, and spiking on a tropical shoreline somewhere, laughing and playing, wearing naught but banana-sling thongs, their impressive coats of sweaty chest hair glistening in the Mediterranean sun. Sorry, I'm not really going anywhere with this. I'm just a sadist, and since that picture is impressed permanently into my brain, I'm going to be an internet nemesis today and try to sear it irrevocably into yours. The fact of the matter is, if you're even reading this, you're probably either: a.) a die- hard Yanni fan who genuinely wants to know if this release is any good, in which case, my apologies for this review's irreverence toward the Grecian pianist, and yes, you will most likely enjoy the concert, or b.) a regular blu-ray.com reader who saw "Yanni" on the front page, chuckled, and clicked on the link out of curiosity but mostly boredom, hoping to be at least mildly bemused. Because really, there are only two possible responses to Yanni—you either passionately love his bland, impossibly square brand of new age-y world-pop, or you view the mustachioed maestro with wry indifference, the predictable punch-line to a stale joke that isn't worth repeating.
Personally, as you might have guessed, I fall into the latter category. Before yesterday, I had never consciously listened to any of Yanni's music, but I automatically lumped it in with the kind of brain-grating cheese produced by Kenny G, John Tesh, and Michael Bolton—the so-called artists on the soundtrack to my most maudlin musical nightmares. So, was I surprised by this live concert? Did my intensive listening experience change my unfounded perceptions about Yanni's skills as a composer? Not at all, actually. What's more, I found that the music seemed acutely familiar, like it's been following me around in grocery stores and at the mall, persistently too, like the creepy old hippy at the organic market who wants to do your star chart. And this is perhaps because Yanni's sound can best be described as Muzak on pure-as-the-driven-snow crack-cocaine. It's unmemorable but infectious, worming its way into your brain subconsciously, propaganda from the Ministry of Sonic Subterfuge. It's the kind of stuff that I might tap my fingers to on the handle of my shopping cart, only to stop myself mid-beat and ask what the hell am I doing? Truth be told, the songs really are as bad as I had always imagined them to be, but the real tragedy here is that they're performed brilliantly, by uber-talented musicians who—I should think —could be putting their gifts to better use elsewhere.
For this November, 2004 concert—which kicked off the Yanni Live! tour at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas—Yanni rounds up a core band of twelve, some of them multi- instrumentalists, supplementing the main players with a twelve piece orchestra. And good lord, some of these people can play. Tokyo-native Sayaka Katsuki goes absolutely mental on her violin, shredding her horsehair bow with abandon. Ming Freeman is a fleet-fingered fiend on keyboards, Walter Rodriguez goes ape on percussion, and long-time Yanni-collaborator Charlie Adams pounds the drums with quantum-clock precision. Most impressive, though, is Venezuelan Pedro Eustache, who makes his flute squawk and tweet like a terrified bird, pursued by some enormous predator. And I mean that in the best way possible. Of course, standing center stage, surrounded by his twenty-four performers and six, count 'em six digital synthesizers, Yanni is some kind of effeminate, wild-eyed circus ringleader, wearing what initially appears to be chain mail, but reveals itself, upon closer inspection, as a short-sleeved sweater. With those long black tresses and that perfectly groomed 'stache, he looks like a magical, musical Captain Hook, or perhaps, in the way that he twists his fingers to direct the musicians, like a manic puppeteer, engrossed in a world of his own making.
The songs vary from new age, faux-rave dance numbers with four-on-the-floor rhythms—to which I seriously can't imagine anyone getting jiggy—to schmaltzy piano and cello duets that beg to played at the kind of poorly organized funeral where no attention has been paid to the once-discerning musical tastes of the deceased. Most often, the music settles into a featureless, globe-hopping world beat that traipses from Middle Eastern to African to South American sounds, playing dueling "ethnic" solos with little regard for consistency. I get it, we're all one happy tribe here on Planet Earth, but Yanni's melting pot seems to be filled with the more predictable and even clichéd aspects of each musical culture. Still, the crowd of thousands drinks down whatever Yanni ladles out at them. After one particularly soppy number, for instance, the camera pans to a woman in the audience who visibly mouths thank you, tears welling up in her eyes. Proof positive that there's no accounting for taste.
2. Standing in Motion
4. Keys to Imagination
6. On Sacred Ground
8. Until the Last Moment
9. If I Could Tell You
10. For All Seasons
11. The Storm
14. World Dance
Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot with 16 high definition video cameras, Yanni Live! astral projects onto Blu-ray with a 1080i/AVC-encoded transfer that's tight, bright, and true-to-source. If you've been patiently waiting to see what Yanni's Tom Selleck+NASCAR driver mustache looks like in high-def, well, it's as glorious and full and perfectly groomed as you've likely imagined. The image is generally sharp, nicely rendering the fine detail in Yanni's short-sleeved, chain mail-look-a-like sweater and the texture and sheen of the various instruments' surfaces. With multi-hued stage lights galore and lasers crisscrossing the auditorium, the picture is filled with vivid, natural-looking color. Black levels are adequately deep and while contrast is usually strong, the image can look a bit flat at times when the stage is overwhelmed with bright lighting. The transfer also occasionally demonstrates some of high definition video's less desirable traits. Hard lines can look overly edgy, fine lines sometimes show slight aliasing, and highlights blow out easily, giving a blotchy, pixilated look to the overheated parts of the picture. Still, noise is mostly unobtrusive, except during the darker shots of the crowd, where it spikes considerably. Overall, if you've seen a concert shot on high definition video before, you won't be surprised or disappointed by this one.
Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Whatever you think of Yanni's music—personally, I try not to think of it at all—it's impossible to deny that this concert sounds pretty damn good, objectively speaking. Captured live with 125 channels of digital audio and mixed into a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, Yanni Live! will seduce the ears of the presumably narrow crossover population in the Venn diagram of Yanni-lovers and hardcore audiophiles. Like the compositions themselves, the mix here does sound a little too perfect, too tidy and free of personality, but at the same time, it's incredibly clear and balanced, with powerful dynamics and ultra-detailed sonic texture. Listen to the snake-in-the-reeds timbre of an Egyptian-sounding oboe solo, the bright brass of trumpets, a cello's deep and vowelic lament, or the breathy, bird-on-a-wire tweets of an intentionally overblown flute. Bass is grounded and distinct, cymbals crash and snares snap tightly, and even more delicate sounds, like the hammered dulcimer and harp, come through with brightness and presence. The music fills every channel, each instrument clearly defined but an inseparable part of the whole. The disc also includes a Linear PCM 2.0 stereo track that's just as potent and well-mixed.
Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Yanni Live! Backstage Pass (1080i, 27:26)
When I saw "Backstage Pass" on the back of the Blu-ray case, I hoped and prayed we'd get footage of Yanni's personal stylist perfuming and oiling those luscious, chin-length locks, but alas, the maestro's time in the make-up chair is withheld from us. Rather, this is standard, prepping for the tour, practicing with the band type stuff, mixed with some insights into Yanni's music-making philosophy. "I want to effect people in a good way, life their spirits, open their hearts, move them emotionally," says Yanni, who goes on to explain how his songs are drastically changed by his multi- cultural touring band. Later, we're taken into the band's practice sessions in Palm Beach and see how all the elements of the stage show eventually come together.
Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Yanni. Tesh. Oiled chest hair. Thongs. See? You'd nearly forgotten, and I simply couldn't let you forget. Not that that has anything to do with Yanni Live!, which is free of partial Grecian nudity and filled instead with fourteen inspirational, heartrending tunes by everyone's favorite/least favorite contemporary instrumentalist. This is a love it or hate it release, and you probably don't need me to tell you which side you favor. Hence, the split down the middle 5/10 rating. The pro- Yanni contingency will definitely be pleased by this concert on Blu-ray, however, as if features a truly impressive lossless audio track and crisp high definition visuals.
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Yanni Live! The Concert Event Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Lightning Deal: Yanni Live Blu-ray (Sold Out) - April 11, 2010
Amazon has a BD-related "lightning deal" going on now: from 6 p.m. PDT, and for a very limited time, you can buy Yanni Live! The Concert Event for a reduced price (unconfirmed at the time of writing). The price history for this Blu-ray title (released on March ...
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