WEST VALLEY CITY — One might say a fortunate fan put Yanni's "Dare to Dream" song to the ultimate test when she begged for a kiss mid-concert Saturday night and the maestro of music left his piano bench, hit the stage floor and leaned down for a smooch.
Caught up in the sweep of the music and the "intimacy" of the Maverik Center, Yanni was in rare form. He cracked jokes and bantered with a somewhat out-of-control — at least for Utah — audience, while commanding his band with focus and energy as they shared old favorites, new melodies and his classic magic.
Yanni is on tour with music that he said he created for the sheer fun of it. But there's no slacking off here, even though the formally clean-shaven, long-haired Greek is not as clean-shaven or as long-haired as he once was.
The sets were crisp, lush and vibrant and the traditional, beloved pieces were brought out with additions from the uber-talented members of the band, which added new color and life.
As usual, Yanni wasn’t selfish with the stage and the spotlight. He shared liberally with Charlie Adams, his drummer of 30 years; harpist Victor Espinola; cellist Alexander Zhiroff; violinists Mary Simpson and Samvel Yervinyan; keyboardist Ming Freeman; trumpeter Jason Carder and percussionist Yoel Del Sol.
The violinist duel was breathtaking and the six-string bass guitar, played by Gabriel Vivas, and the off-the-floor harp number were absolutely astounding.
The title song from Yanni's latest "Truth of Touch" album was exhilarating.
The signature song from his "Live at the Acropolis" concert and album was wonderfully refreshing.
Yanni commented on the bizarre Utah weather, the warmth of the Salt Lake City audience and the venue.
"I can almost touch you and the cool part is I can also hear you," he said. "I'm here to take you away from your troubles."
He then played a song he wrote for a special lady in his life — his mother — and warned the audience not to try to guess her name as he played the nostalgic, sweet "Felicia."
He included early pieces written while he was still in Greece, songs from his early tours and such favorites as "Santorini,” "In the Morning Light," "Key to Imagination" and the aria vocal featuring soloists who hit the ceiling with their high, clear notes.
"Marching Season" and "The Storm" — pieces only heard in concerts — featured Yanni and Adams.
There weren’t any gimmicks in this offering, only the brilliance of the music, the lights and the starry backdrop, and it worked just fine. Listeners seemed more than satisfied with their music man as he pumped the air and played double synthesizers, the piano keys and their heartstrings.
Finally, "Niki Nana" picked listeners up off their chairs and led them into multiple encores until Yanni called the evening to a halt after two breathtaking, beautiful hours of sweet, incredible music.
Sharon Haddock is a professional freelance writer with 30 years experience, 17 of those at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: [email protected]