Reviews > Shows
Pink Martini at The Orpheum
Amid the hubbub of people settling into their seats at Boston’s two-tier Orpheum Theatre, an announcement came over the P.A. : “Please Welcome Pink Martini, from Portland, Oregon.” Thomas Lauderdale and the band members then took the stage for an instrumental version of the classical composer Ravel’s “Bolero” to open the show, complete with violin, piano, trombone, and trumpet solos, ending on a piano flourish by the outfit’s bandleader. That same puckish musician then introduced Pink Martini’s dynamic lead singer, the “lovely, resplendent China Forbes.”
The 11-piece mini-orchestra then continued with “Una Notte a Napoli” (“All about a night in Naples,” Lauderdale informed) from their second album, Hang On Little Tomato, before that album’s title track as well was played—piano sweet, charming, and playful, trombone solo winsome, and all seeming like the music from a movie or musical from the 1940s or 50s.
A touching moment came when Forbes dedicated “Autrefois” to her late father, who, she explained, inspired a love of music in her and her sister as well as her own love for French; the francophone lyrics that translate to “I had a good time / a good time long ago” were extra-poignant here.
Off their 2009 album Splendor in the Grass, came “Ninna Nonna,” a song in Neapolitan written with two Italian friends from New York (who also collaborated on “Una Notte”), which featured Timothy Nishimoto (vocalist, percussionist) humming the song’s melody by way of intro to Forbes’ lead vocals. Then, they performed “Tuca tuca,” a song in “regular” Italian that, as Forbes explained, was a made up word in a song title (1970) by singer Raffaella Carrà that plays off the Italian for “touch-touch.” “Over the Valley” was next—also off their 2009 effort—which could have been a song in The Wizard of Oz, then the easy-rocking “Hey Eugene” (the title track to their third disc), which included a bluesy electric guitar solo from Dan Faehnle and Forbes getting all soul in singing the tune’s outro.
Other highlights included a song, “Cante E Dance,” penned in Portuguese by upright bassist Phil Baker, a Happy New Year song in Mandarin (sung by Forbes and Nishimoto), the audience-demanded “Donde Estas, Yolanda?” and the cheeky, curio, and cherished international gem “Sympathique,” which—along with “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love” garnered cheers after its first notes resonated.
By the time the ensemble reached “Brazil” for the encore, the crowd was standing up and singing along to music that evoked world and Latino musical traditions as well as American musical-theatre.
All in all, Pink Martini is as cool—and inclusive—as it gets.
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