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Yanni delights Buffalo fans with intense 'Acropolis' concert

Over the past four decades, I've reviewed concerts of almost every kind for The Buffalo News – from rockers like Van Halen to country legends like Johnny Cash. I reviewed blues master BB King, night club crooner Tony Bennett, soul shouter James Brown and many, many others.

But I never thought I'd find myself reviewing a Yanni show.

An editor asked me to do it, and I agreed – mainly out of curiosity.

And I'm glad I did.

Yanni's brand of light classical, New Age music is not exactly my cup of tea, but there were plenty of stirring moments during the 2 1/2-hour show he put on Friday night at the beautiful Shea's Performing Arts Center.

People may joke about Yanni, but the charismatic band leader has a Buffalo following. The place was packed, mostly with baby boomers, who cheered his every move.

Dressed all in white as he does on his album covers, the 63-year-old Greek led his band of 11 world-class musicians on a set celebrating the 25-year anniversary of Yanni's most popular and critically acclaimed album, Live at the Acropolis.

Most of the songs, including the intense "Santorini" and the beautiful "Felitsa," a tribute to Yanni's mother, were from the Acropolis album.

Yanni tended to ramble a bit when he talked about recording the album, but the man with the flowing jet black hair and trademark mustache is clearly proud of it.

"I'm trying to help you feel how we were feeling in the Acropolis that night," he said.

Joining the celebration were impressive musicians who hail from all over the world. I was especially impressed with drummer Charlie Adams, trumpeter Jason Carder and violinists Lindsay Deutsch and Samvel Yervinyan.

Yanni would probably be the first to admit his band members have better chops than him, but the former rock musician is the leader and songwriter. He stands between three keyboards, and often plays two at a time, smiling and cheering his musicians on as they solo.

Some of the music – such as the brilliant "Santorini" -- is all fanfare and intensity. Other songs are soft, contemplative and so relaxing that the young lady seated to my right actually dozed off a couple of times.

But very few people were dozing at Friday's show. Many people shouted out their accolades to Yanni between songs.

"When they like me, they really like me," Yanni remarked to The New York Times earlier this year.



July 20 at Shea's Performing Arts Center

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