Yanni is awesome. Yes, that Yanni.

  • Give a Yanni a try, metal-lover Sean Stangland suggests. You might just become a fan.

    Give a Yanni a try, metal-lover Sean Stangland suggests. You might just become a fan. Associated Press photo

 
 
Posted8/5/2016 6:00 AM

You know his singular moniker. You know his long, flowing hair. You know he plays something like 15 keyboards at once.

He is Yanni. And last weekend, I found out that he is awesome.

 

The Greek composer and musician played a 2-hour concert with his 11-piece orchestra last Saturday at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates to thousands of people. The diverse crowd included a 7-year-old girl who ran up to the stage to shake Yanni's hand, a middle-aged man who twirled his jacket above his head and was escorted back to his seat by security, and hundreds of women of all ages and ethnicities who screamed, "I love you, Yanni," between songs.

"I love you, too," a bemused Yanni said back.

Yanni said lots of things, mostly about love. Love for his bandmates, including Joliet-born drummer Charlie Adams. Love for his parents, both of which inspired beautiful, piano-driven compositions ("Felitsa" and "Until the Last Moment"). Love for the audience and its nearby big city -- "I love your pizza!" As his neo-pop-classical-new age-whatever music suggests, Yanni is a hopeless romantic. He's also a hilarious joy to watch, one hand playing the keys and the other conducting the band with dramatic flourishes.

He became famous in America in the '90s thanks to his hugely successful "Live at the Acropolis" CD and VHS, a memorable British Airways commercial using the song "Aria," and PBS, which still airs his specials regularly. He became a joke soon after, an earnest musical presence at the height of alternative rock's radio takeover.

But Yanni's still around, still touring the world, and still showcasing the virtuoso musicians in his company. You can see their unique stage presence in the recent DVD/Blu-ray release of "The Dream Concert: Live From the Pyramids of Egypt," featuring the same group that stopped at Sears Centre playing a setlist very close to the one I heard last weekend. That classic Acropolis concert also is still available on DVD, as well as most music streaming services.

Check out "Acroyali/Standing in Motion" and "Nostalgia." Hunt down some YouTube clips. Search your PBS listings. You might discover you like Yanni, too.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor whose favorite bands are Metallica and Iron Maiden. See? There's room for Yanni in everyone's life. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.