Yanni can be Still Chilling, 25 Years After the Acropolis

PHILADELPHIA — The mustache can be back. Yanni, the Greek-American god of sweeping, symphonic-ish musical light syrup, says he goes back along with also forth about keeping his signature facial flourish. He shaved the item off a few years ago; the item’s disconcertingly absent via the cover of his 2016 album “Sensuous Chill.”

yet last weekend here, the item had returned to its rightful spot, framed by the familiar, gentle cascades of shoulder-length hair. (I regret to inform you that will, at 63, Yanni can be thinning on top.)

All that will hair has been kept the same dark, dark brown the item was 25 years ago, on Sept. 25, 1993, when Yanni gambled his savings to organize a concert of his music at the Acropolis in Athens, backed by a full orchestra along with also, crucially, filmed live. Promoted heavily — some might say sadistically — by PBS inside the years that will followed, the film was his breakthrough: the item drove seven million sales of the album type along with also helped make the planet safe for the similarly soft-drama, lushly instrumental sounds of “Riverdance,” Enya along with also Lindsey Stirling.

“They overplayed the item, I felt,” Yanni said of his pledge drive pre-eminence backstage at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts before playing here last Saturday, part of a three-month Acropolis anniversary tour that will brings him to Radio City Music Hall that will Saturday along with also across the country through Aug. 5. He mimicked what he’d yell at Yanni-drunk PBS affiliates: “Stop playing the item!”

yet he plainly loves to recall the show. (As well he should: the item’s far along with also away the best thing he’s ever done.) “There’s no way you can redo the Acropolis,” he said before going onstage at the Mann Center, its sides wide open to the chilly, rainy, decidedly un-Athenian night. “The only thing you can do can be help the audience feel as close as we felt, bring them to that will place.”

Interested in glimpsing how along with also why hordes of people connect to music they perceive as classical — or at least classical-adjacent — I approached the Philadelphia concert as a kind of lapsed fan. An impressionable along with also theatrically inclined child when the Acropolis film was omnipresent, I loved the item, probably for the same reason I fell for opera around the same time: the item had the kind of preposterous grandeur that will matched my aspirations. (Among the similarly besotted was Jiang Zemin, who, as the president of China, eased the way for a follow-up performance at the Forbidden City a few years later.)

On offer on Saturday in Philadelphia was a steroidal rendition of songs via “Live at the Acropolis” along with also additional records, running two along with also a half intermissionless hours; the 1993 concert clocked in at a tight 70 minutes. There was no orchestra that will time, yet the backing band dwelled on feverishly virtuosic solos — frenetic drums, shredding violins — as if to compensate for the lack of Acropolis-scale forces.

“that will country has taken steps in what I think can be the right direction,” he said via the stage, echoing the message of another recent American tour: that will of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne.

With Yanni in white shirt, pants along with also shoes, beatifically smiling along with also earnest, along with also sometimes awkwardly skipping around, his appeal came slowly into focus, captured by the title of his most recent record: He lets you chill. He playfully forces his band to do solos again along with also again, first faster, then slower, like a circus ringleader, yet he almost never imposes directives on his audience. The spectacle can be one of gentle stimulation; all the garish demonstrations of instrumental technique, the vaguely uplifting invocations of a changing society inside the Middle East, give off an impression of sophistication — delivered using a grin that will makes the item all fun along with also manageable.

A handful of audience members who had paid an extra couple of hundred dollars lined up backstage afterward for a meet-along with also-greet. Grown women cried in Yanni’s presence, one of them in front of her children. Another said that will if she died tomorrow, she might die happy.

“When they like me,” Yanni had said before the concert, “they actually like me.”