STUDIO: Image Entertainment
MSRP: $24.99
RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes

Yanni Live! Backstage Pass featurette

The Pitch

Friends, the Apocalypse is upon us.

"I’d just like to start the night out by paying tribute to my inspirations: John Tesh, Zamfir and Gene Simmons…"

The Humans

Yanni, a shload of other musicians, and several thousand audience members who asked that they not be identified.

One of the many deterrents to any Yanni haters showing up: 50,000 watt anti-personnel lasers…

The Nutshell

Acclaimed (in some small circles anyway) synthesizer god Yanni gives a tour-de-force concert at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Backed by a full orchestra and vocalists, he delights thousands of brainwashed morons seeking to find some semblance of meaning in their hollowed out lives through feel-good, electronic, soulless synthed-out chords of happy happy joy joy. May God help them all.

Woman on the left: "My, his moustache is sexy."
Woman in the middle: "His dulcet tones make me swoon."
Man on the right: "WTF?! You mean this ain’t the Ashford and Simpson show??!!"

The Lowdown

My initial intention in claiming this DVD was that I had had a lot of discs that I reasonably liked and even downright enjoyed lately. I wrote ad nauseum about how I was a fan of such and such, enjoyed this and that, yadda yadda yadda. There comes a point when you do a gig like this that you know you’re getting stale and have to take a title that is going to challenge your prowess in truly trashing something. Yanni beckoned me…no, he called to me and I was compelled to heed him. Before I commence, let me give you an oh so quickie bit of background about my musical tastes. Doubtful you’ll mind because if you’re actually interested in what is contained within the digital confines of this DVD, you’re at the wrong website. Trust me on this.

"Um yes, may I have two vegy wraps, a chai tea latte and a wheatgrass juice chaser please?"

Anyway, when it comes to music, I’m old school soul all the way. Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown, Aretha Franklin…those are all of the obvious – and rightly so – musical acts that stir my sensibilities. But go deeper: Donny Hathaway, L.T.D., The Commodores, The Isley Bros., Blue Magic, Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, Al Green, The O’Jays, The Spinners, and more recently, Mary J. Blige, Musiq, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Aaliyah, and on and on. Music that you hear and drift away to a velvet void and wrap yourself in beautiful nothingness. Music that stirs your essence and stays with you forever. Music to make with the freaky freaky if you get my drift. That’s what’s in my Ipod, my ’64, my CD shelf.

When Yanni’s alone in the dark…dreams of a young Dizzy Gillespie…

Obviously this is one small corner of an endless musical landscape that is embedded within our world and our many cultures. Much of it I can also get with. Much of it I can’t. I’m not special in this area as we all have our tastes. Me personally, there are basically a few kinds of tunes I’ll never get: Lawrence Welk, Christian Rock, and Yanni. So why get his concert disc? Well it’s like I said: sometimes, you just need something you can just have fun with…not good fun mind you.

Nothing wowed ‘em more than Yanni’s simultaneous renditions of Handel’s "Messiah" and Quiet Riot’s "Cum on Feel The Noise"…

So what do any of us really know about Yanni anyway? Do you listen to his stuff? I sure as hell don’t. A quick check of the web (I recommend Wikipedia) gives me the following info: born in Greece, schooled at Minnesota, played the Acropolis and Taj Mahal, reigning king of New Age, or as he likes to put it, contemporary instrumental, banged Linda Evans for about a decade or so, and was recently arrested for allegedly beating the crap out of his girlfriend. Cursory inspection of the man himself shows that he favors long hair and a thick Magnum, PI moustache…basically the Doug Henning of music.

"Yo, Yan *choke*, you wanna *wheez* hit some of this, homey *choke*?"

In Yanni Live!, the man treats us to a concert performance conducted in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. He’s invited a few thousand of his closest friends and assembled a full orchestra of musicians who seem to be enjoying themselves much more than you’d think, given the circumstances. Among some of the more colorful performers are what I’m assuming is some kind of aboriginal horn blower, a blonde female singer who I’d swear on a stack of bibles was lip-synching in the first song she appeared, and a long-tressed Latin male singer who in all likelihood has the exact same stylist as Fabio. Together, they go through a full spectrum of world musical styles from Latin New Age synth to Down Under New Age synth to European New Age synth to African New Age synth to good ole American New Age synth. All the while, Yanni is in the center of it all, urging the others to join him in celebrating music the future populace of San Angeles depicted in Demolition Man would be sure to have alpha wave cyber sex to.

The Devil gave this poor soul the choice: playing with Yanni or playing in hell. It didn’t take long to decide…

The Package

There’s a difference, albeit however slight, between a concert movie, and the disc that it appears on. Once you mute the sound (recommended highly), you’ll see that the presentation is fairly impressive, featuring multiple cameras covering the gamut of performances. As for special features, there’s a 25-minute behind-the-scenes, Yanni Live! Backstage Pass. I’m sure it was quite good, but I neglected to watch more than the opening credits…. So, when all is said and done and since music is highly subjective, it doesn’t seem fair to assign it a paltry number rating, so I found a symbol said to have significant New Age meaning. So I chalk Yanni Live! up as:

YanniRating out of 10