Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some People Only Go for the Fireworks: Pink Martini @ the Hollywood Bowl September 16, 2007

I've slowly started to make the Hollywood Bowl my yearly summer treat- I've only been out here FIVE years now, I should be enjoying it. Anyways, one of the fun parts to going is that you can still see fireworks in September here; they make the summer (along with the 85+ยบ temps) seem to last just a little bit longer. However, who you'll see is kinda hit or miss. I caught the Tchaikovsky Spectacular last year, which I enjoyed, cause I enjoy the composer. This year we caught Pink Martini, and found out Carol Channing is still alive.

I have nothing against Lounge-y type music. It can be fun; I own a couple of the Ultra Lounge cds (mainly cause some are fuzzy or include games on the front, but whatever, I listen to them). So I was sorta prepared for the songs of Pink Martini from the Cocoanut Grove. It was kitschy and fun. Although, I liked when the girl sang in another language as opposed to English- cause then the words sound ridiculous and you feel you should be playing the slots somewhere while old ladies in tassels hand you watered down margaritas. However, if you were there solely for the firework show then it may have been a bit of a groan.

What surprised me were the fans of Pink Martini there. I've heard their name tossed around plenty of times but I never bothered to listen to them. Honestly, at some point I thought they might have been a chamber group or something along those lines. Anywho, there was a group of kids (UCLA kids) in front of us who were actually singing along to the lyrics. And not just the Pink Martini version of "Que Sera Sera" (the 'dark' version...), but also to those songs that were penned by Pink Martini themselves. Yah- that means that they own and have listened to their old and current cds. For whatever reason children several years younger than me doing this makes me think that they were all musical theater majors, HAVE to be. A lot of older people were singing along to, but these kids were at most 18.

So, I guess I have to back up a minute. The night actually started out with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra doing a few instrumental songs- which were treats from the time of Carmen Miranda and the like. And the conductor, Thomas Wilkins, was a really great storyteller besides being the man waving the stick. It was remarked upon how he kept up his enthusiasm and felt fresh, even though this was the third night of doing the show.

Oh, and backing up even before that (sorry, my mind is at a snail's death crawl right now) outside at the bottom of the Bowl when we showed up was this bizarre marching band from Portland, OR (where P.M. is also from) dressed up like they belonged in a Rockabilly Burlesque show. Later on in the night they appeared on stage for a song or two and then just as quickly were gone. That was the odd thing about the 'guest' performers... they all had very brief spots. Also, they were very old. The two singers coming on with P.M. were Henri Salvador, who is 90 and French, and Carol Channing, who is 117 and can still dance. Carol was incredibly entertaining and really did dance- not a freaking ballet or anything, but she did shimmy. It's insane though that her smile seems so wide that so swear, if she wanted to, she could unhinge her jaw and swallow a piano whole. The Henri guy I guess is really popular in France and was once a suave guy, however during "There's No Business Like Show Business" I felt a little bad as he mumbled the words and hid behind a piece of paper- I wonder what he was like the other two nights?

The fireworks at the end were awesome, even if they can't do a HUGE show due to the possibility of setting people on fire in the crowd. They started off kinda pitiful, what with the two tiny streamers that reminded me of Sparklers but then got out the big ones and had bursts of fire and all that as I sat agape with childlike awe. I love fireworks in part for their ability to still put a little wonder back into my jaded, cynical life.

I don't know if tonight turned me into a Pink Martini fan, but it did give me another reason to love going to the Bowl. That and the their shuttle system is friggin' superb.

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