Review Summary: That rare moment in history where a live performance outdoes anything recorded in the studio and transcends the boundaries of simply being a collection of songs, becoming an emotional experience.
For anyone familiar with Yanni, it goes without question that his music has always suited the live sound as opposed to remaining in the confinements of a studio. Looking back, the Acropolis seems almost too perfect a setting for Yanni to have showcased his skill. The audience is seated in an amphitheatre outside where the sounds and melodies are allowed to echo, amplifying the musical experience. It was also the first time Yanni had played in his homeland of Greece, a heartwarming reunion with his fellow citizens. He is a legendary composer and has a gift of writing timeless progressive songs that utilize a wide array of instruments. That’s what always been impressive about this man, the variety of instruments he involves.
While it resembles the looks and sounds of a conventional orchestra, Yanni thrives on his urge to experiment and incorporate things like bass guitar grooves (see “The Rain Must Fall”) or bongo drums (see “Keys to the Imagination”). His most powerful musical weapon though, the piano, he reserves for himself. He positions his seat at the centre of everything, watching over his talented orchestra of musicians, each adept at the instrument they play. It creates an exciting atmosphere where anything within the realms of music seems possible. “Swept Away” is a song written for the sole purpose of giving each instrument its own moment, a triumphant celebration.
Most of the success of this live performance hinges on the creator himself. When you watch the actual performance, much of the time is spent zeroing in on Yanni, capturing the passion he has for his own music. You can truly tell how immersed he is, how much he feels the music as it plays along. It’s important to note that he is a self-taught composer. This music is his child, his creation. He is closer to his music than the vast majority of us could even imagine being.
To decide which moment in the album is truly the best would be impossible. Could it be the soft piano ballad in “Santorini”? Maybe when the violin goes on a complete tangent in “The Rain Must Fall” and ferociously plays into the final moments of the song? The steady progression of “Nostalgia” into a full-blown storm of trumpets is so powerful that half the crowd jumps to its feet at the ending climax for a standing ovation. Finally, the opening moments of “One Man’s Dream” are surreal. The entire orchestra and audience fall silent as Yanni delivers, quite honestly, one of the most beautiful and heartfelt piano ballads in recent musical memory. It’s absolutely gut wrenching to watch him play that piece, like he was destined to be there at that moment his whole life. It was a wonderful concert to watch, and a key moment in the man’s life and career. It’s also something I’ll never forget. Experience it too if you’d like.