Last night, September 12th 2010, Ashley and I went to a Pink Martini concert at the Hollywood Bowl. We had gone last year and were expecting to have a great time especially since this year the group was being joined by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Ari Shapiro from NPR (who sang a song of Splendor in the Grass at last year’s concert), and a slew of other guests. We even got tickets more expensive tickets so that we could sit closer to the stage.
The first half of the concert was amazing. They played some of their best songs and this time, Ari Shapiro sang the same song he sang last year plus another Pink Martini song. He enchanted the audience once again. I think everyone there understood why Thomas Lauderdale (the pianist and leader of Pink Martini) called Shapiro “the most perfect man in the world” (says Ashley, who read it in the newspaper). Things started becoming strange when guest Rufus Wainwright appeared at the end of the first half and sang, not a Pink Martini song, but an aria from his upcoming opera. The song was, frankly speaking, not very good and certainly not in the style of Pink Martini. The first half ended with Wainwright and China Forbes singing a charming duet.
The second half was where things really took a downhill turn. Rather than go over the whole thing step-by-step, I’ll just say that Pink Martini only played three of their own songs. The rest of the half was a combination of Jane Powell (who sang 4, yes FOUR songs), and the original cast of Sesame Street (excellent!). Jane Powell was an interesting addition to the bill, sure she’s plucky for 81, but one song would have been enough. Now, I liked the Sesame Street bit, it was delightful, but we came to see Pink Martini not a roster of others.
It wasn’t a secret that there were going to be special guests at this concert, but the when half the concert is devoted to them it becomes a bit strange. It’s equally strange when these guests sing songs that have nothing to do with Pink Martini. Had we known that we were going to have to sit through two Rufus Wainwright songs, four Jane Powell songs, an introductory tune (from the musical, Gigi) from the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and a medley from the cast of Sesame Street – we might have reconsidered the amount we paid for tickets by roughly half because that’s how much of the concert Pink Martini didn’t play.
To be sure, we weren’t crying on the way out, a trip to the Hollywood Bowl is a trip to the Hollywood Bowl, but we were uneasy about discussing how we felt. Pink Martini is a band we both really enjoy and support so it seems weird to be disappointed after their concert. Oh right, it wasn’t their concert, last night was ensemble cast. Hopefully next year will be different.