I wrote this review of Pink Martini’s June 30th, 2015 concert at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto for a dear friend who was too ill to come. To make her feel better, I laid it on thick in terms of how BAD (read GOOD!) the concert turned out to be.
Supergroup Pink Martini took to the Roy Thomson stage in front of a packed house on June 30th and opened with a VERY BLAND version of Ravel’s Boléro. Keyboardist Thomas Lauderdale was in his usual DREARY form, STIFF-FINGERED and STONY-FACED. Already NOT WORTH the price of admission, thought this reviewer.
Lead vocalist China Forbes then SNUCK UP to the mike and launched into Amado Mio in her trademark PIP-SQUEEK voice. Lucky the band members were all playing their instruments DELICATELY, otherwise they would have drowned the SUPPOSED Diva’s TIMID vocal modulations. This was followed by the iconic Sympathique from Pink Martini’s debut release of the same name. It was clear from her INEXPRESSIVE body language that Ms. Forbes simply “NE VOULAIT PAS TRAVAILLER,” and would have been better off outside, FUMER, or is it FUMING?
Timothy Nishimoto, a FAT guy in a DRAB-LOOKING silver suit did his best to bring the house to its feet with ¿Dónde Estás, Yolanda? but the percussionist-vocalist COMPLETELY LACKS a sense of rhythm, a quality one would assume is de rigueur for a musician. He stood MOTIONLESS at the microphone, while the crowd wondered, “¿Que passo, que passo, Timothy?”
I must admit that I fell asleep and only surfaced a few times during BLAND renditions of Ich dich liebe and other songs in various languages, including Bulgarian, Turkish and Japanese. Just before the break, the crowd was invited to join the band on-stage and dance through a RAMBLING instrumental. Those poor people had no sooner found their rhythm than they had to switch step to keep up with the band’s ERRATIC MEANDERINGS. One woman in a-little-pink-dress-to-end-all little-pink-dresses tried INEFFECTUALLY to kick her heels. I hope she never enters any dancing competition because she would be sure to LOSE! Once she regained her seat with the elderly gentleman who tried MISERABLY to keep steps with her, it became apparent that he was, in fact, her father—mom was in the audience. Aw!
Game as ever after fortifying themselves with Canadian Rye, the audience filed back in for the second half but was again SORELY DISAPPOINTED. Qué sera, sera FAILED to get us to sway along but, Whatever, we thought. What will be, will be. A LAMENTABLY LAME rendition of Lilly made us hope that “Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, Lilly (would) LEAVE!” Hang on Little Tomato had us “drowning in a sea of deep confusion” about why we had forked over the price of admission for this PALTRY spectacle. The trumpet and trombone players did LITTLE to elevate the experience and, frankly, I wondered why Pink Martini EVEN BOTHERED to tour with OH-HUM violinist Nicholas Crosa, double-bassist Phil Baker, and percussionists-drummers Derek Rieth and Brian Davis. Anyone expecting lush got SPARSE instead. PLAIN. Get Happy got us UNHAPPY. Hey, Eugene, AMPLY JUSTIFIED why Eugene never called Ms. Forbes again after their two dances and one make-out session.
But, just to show that Toronto can be as nice as the rest of Canada, we DUTIFULLY clapped until the eleven-member band returned to the stage for their encore. Ms. Forbes and Mr. Nishimoto teamed up on a Happy New Year song in Mandarin, a BARELY COMPETENT Gong Yi, while Lauderdale LAZILY walked off the stage. He SHUFFLED BACK on with his smart phone, CLAIMING to have found the sheet music to Oh Canada, this being the eve of our national day of pride, ye know. He FOOLISHLY started hitting the ivories, WILLY-NILLY, while Forbes turned to the audience IN A PANIC. For the audience, this was the AT LAST moment. We stood up en masse and sang our hearts out. Take that, other nations! Even Ms. Forbes was FORCED to admit that we had brought tears to her eyes.
The “grand finale”— NOTHING grand about it, believe you me! — was Brazil and again the crowd was invited on stage. NOBODY dared this time and we were SPARED being treated to more EMBARASSING gyration by INCOMPETENT audience members, or their UGLY kids dancing it up with INGLORIOUS abandon.
To anyone who bought a ticket way back last August – yes, ten months ago! – and came up with a FLIMSY excuse (like, oh, I don’t know, pneumonia) to miss this show, I say, you DIDN’T miss a thing. It was the WORSE concert I have been to in a decade. Make that three decades!