The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages

Live Shot

Reviewed by Greg Beets, May 2, 2003, Music


Frank Erwin Center, April 27

Going to a Yanni concert is a lot like being an agnostic in church. Surrounded by a faithful throng vocal in its adoration, you want to "get it," to hear the joyous noise they hear, but you don't. That feeling is exacerbated by the fact that Yanni's "One World, One People" credo is something only a John Bircher could truly hate. Employing familiar romantic melodies as a foundation, he attempts to bring all the world's music together under one happy tent. No doubt there's a way to fuse didgeridoo, dulcimer, and disco with traditional classical themes, especially with 20-plus musicians and the Man in Leather Pants himself dwarfed by enough keyboard wizardry to control the weather on Mars. But that would-be harmonic bouillabaisse leaves you with a homogenization more akin to cafeteria food. Nothing tastes really bad, but in the absence of a single startling or jarring note during the course of a three-hour concert, you can't help but question its authenticity. Once an aspiring prog-rocker, Yanni allows for plenty of solos, but in service of what? Perhaps the safe, ubiquitous nature of Yanni's compositions is a conscious attempt to allow listeners (or sponsors) to make their own unique imprint on it. His "Aria" serves British Airways well because it conveys an anonymous respectability, yet that same music has a profound spiritual impact on some people. Despite being nonplussed, you come away believing Yanni is serious about using music to make the world a better place, which can't be all bad so long as that doesn't entail having to listen to more Yanni.

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