Nineteen years ago I got my first taste of music in the form of Yanni’s breakout concert, live from the Acropolis, Greece. I remember sneaking into the living room first thing every morning just so I could slip the video cassette into the VCR, and every morning I would be whisked off to the Acropolis to bear witness to that marvel of music unfolding before me and anyone else around. And it never got old, no matter how many times I’d seen it.
Fast forward to last night, Yanni’s second and final(?) night of performance in Jbeil/Byblos, Lebanon, as part of the Byblos International Festival. Everything was as I remember it: the music, the energy, the lighting. Other than that, some of the performers had aged-Yanni included-but that didn’t stop them from putting on a fantastic show. From the actual pieces to the solos-with their enthralling and seductive Hellenic, Mediterranean, oriental and classical melodies and rhythms-(my favorites being the cello, drums, and violin solos), Yanni and his ensemble stunned the audience and kept them spellbound. I for one could tell you that the dopamine rush I felt was unlike anything I’d felt in a very long time, almost to the point of tears. All the amazement, wonder, inspiration, and overall nostalgia came rushing back to me from the show’s opening to its final , hopeful cadence. As for stage presence, Yanni charmed the audience, joked with them, and was genuinely humbled by the warm (understatement of the year) reception he received. He also mentioned that performing in Lebanon was a dream come true, took the time to introduce the musicians in his ensemble (usually for their solos), and promised us that he would return for next year and the year after that, hence the question mark earlier. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, as the house was full to the brim; people were still arriving even after the performance began. All in all, the show was magnificent, stupendous, marvelous, and just about every other adjective under the sun that I can’t squeeze in at the moment.
The historical city of Jbeil/Byblos (depending on preference) couldn’t have been a better venue, with the spirit of the ancient Greeks still alive and kicking it to their latest Hellenic kin to pay the city a visit. The stage and seats were placed over by a pier at the edge of the city, with the latter literally above the water; when the music wasn’t playing the sound of the gently rolling waves offered a sense of relief. Add to that the sea breeze and you had yourself a near-perfect spot to hold this kind of concert. The acoustics and sound system were properly synced and tuned to deliver the most incredible auditory experience I’ve had so far, and the lighting just fit with the music, every measure of it-whether it was dynamic or static, red or blue, etc… So while the music may have been the bulk of the experience, the lighting and the sound made it all the more unforgettable.
Overall, Yanni’s first (or rather, second night of) performance in Lebanon was an astounding and surreal experience for all those there, and while it may not have been the Acropolis, the same magic was still very much present last night and will be at every one of his performances.
Y’all take care now
Excuse the shoddy quality of my phone’s camera but it did manage to get everything it could