Farewells to bumblebees never sounded this good

March 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

There are no words to capture the authentic magic of the Pink Martini show at the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra last night. It was incredibly cohesive, controlled, with not a single fumble or misstep. If that makes it sound as though the show was rudimentary, clinical, and cold, that would be dead wrong, because it was also one of the most engaging, warm, utterly *musical* concerts I’ve been to in recent memory.

What does it mean to be *musical*? I have no blinking clue; I’m sure masses of concert reviewers will convulsively twitch reading about a music concert that was ‘musical.’ Yet it was, and the only way I can describe it is to say that Music took centre-stage last night, whether drifting along sweetly or pounding hard on the floors with intensity, while the Players were merely that – Players. They were each of them so masterful on their respective instrument, and so assured, that no one person overshadowed the other, and this allowed for what seemed, for those few hours at least, like a genuine creative collaboration of minds and hearts completely in sync and in rhythm.

Which I imagine must be hard on a stage filled with 10 people. O was it 11?

The band - in KL, minus the lady on the left. (Photo nicked from pinkmartini.com)

[Total irrelevant digression: Having bought the ‘cheap tickets’ we thought it was an accident to have been placed in the front row. Why are these the cheap tickets? We were smack dab in front and comments among my companions ranged from, “Are we sitting in someone else’s seats?” to “Will we go bloody deaf?” to “Oh my shit, will they call us up on stage? I can’t handle that!” (Shy Malaysian Syndrome.) I could see every movement of China Forbes’ gloriously sparkly eyelids, and the sound was beyond awesome and not at all overly-loud. It was my first time in the MPO, and admittedly the acoustics are brilliant. But still, the question remains… HOW WAS THIS THE CHEAP TICKETS?]

I don’t mean to single anyone out, but it has to be said that China Forbes’ voice is a thing of wonder. I mean, if you can sing like that, then you can never feel useless in this world. Also, great stage presence. Just the right amount of mysterious seductiveness mixed with warmth. As I’ve compulsively Googled the band members’ respective bios since the concert, I know now that she’s had a bit of a thespian past. (And oooh, she majored in English Literature! China, you and I… we are so alike! In some ways!)

An example of a really good marriage is Timothy Nishimoto’s vocals merging with China’s. Those voices blending together must produce babies.

Violinist! (Nicholas Crosa). You in the corner, breaking violin strings with your intensity, we fall at your feet.

Thomas Lauderdale on piano, reading scripted announcements in Malay, twirling and banging on the piano like some little wood sprite. Really, he’s not quite human and I mean that in the best way possible. Imagine my shock when I found out that he used to be in politics. However, his bio clarifies that “he spent most of his collegiate years in cocktail dresses” which makes it all okay.

And really, Trumpet and Trombone dudes were astounding (Gavin Bondy and Robert Taylor, respectively). I swear the trombone was actually talking to me at one point and that’s no mean feat.

Some brilliant standouts: ‘Hey Eugene’ which really sort of brought the house down, and their encore number ‘Brazil’, which got Malaysians dancing! My ass was sort of plastered to the seat as I was having dress issues, but other assorted uncles and aunties were really jiving. I loved the energy of ‘Una Notte A Napoli’ and one of my favourites, ‘Dosvedanya Mio Bombino’ when done live.

Charming: Introducing themselves as ‘Martini Merah Jambu,’ and the introduction to ‘Hang on Little Tomato’ which had some quirky Malay translations.

One was apt to twirl and prance in a lovely daze after the concert, or be prompted to sing out loud in the car ride back home. But I won’t name any names.

Here is a video of them performing ‘Una Notte A Napoli’ on what seems to be an Italian TV show:

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