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Arts and Entertainment

Pink Martini @ The Hollywood Bowl, 9/14

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As a big fan of music, the outdoors and people walking around with purple wine mustaches, I’m not pleased to report that this was my first trip to the Hollywood Bowl all year. I don’t know what happened – I’ve seen some of my favorite bands there and sometimes even go just to whoop it up in the cheap seats regardless of who’s playing for an excuse to eat too much cheese and hang out with my friends under the stars. For some reason this year the summer got away from me and I only made it once, but at least it was fancy. The nice people at the Bowl gave me box seats that were up close and even came with their own fold out, airplane-like tables. I had no idea. It was awesome, like dining in a really comfy veal pen. Due to the fact that we were sitting in the section where people who buy season tickets to the symphony sit, and that Pink Martini is many things, none of which are either rock or roll, we were surrounded by a much more….mature audience than I’m used to there. A 50th birthday party was happening to our left and everyone in the box next to us was wearing a hearing aid, but they raged right up there with the best of them – nary a table was without several bottles of wine and I watched the guy in front of me put away at least four, very large, very pink, martinis. Ah, the Bowl, how I’ve missed it.

I've never actually seen Pink Martini but I've been meaning to get their CDs for well over ten years now. They're one of those bands that I constantly hear playing at someone's house, ask who it is, and slap my head "of course! Pink Martini!" then promptly forget until the next time I hear them at someone's house, love them, etc. Aside from being forgetful, I'm also lazy and cheap and a little more proactive when it comes to buying rock CDs, but after seeing them live, I'm going to do it. I'm going to own their CDs. All of them. Because they honestly kind of rocked me. In an elegant, world music type of way.

The evening opened with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra playing a few numbers of historical import that were introduced by the uber charismatic conductor, Thomas Wilkins. The second they were done I went up to take my pictures, much farther away from the stage than I thought I'd be, which is why I'm not using any of them. My poor, crappy camera couldn't handle the distance and the Hollywood Bowl lady wouldn't let me go up further, so I stole this one off their website. Suffice it to say that the band looked lovely, lead singer China Forbes graced us with a costume change (pink taffeta), tuxedos were worn, black prevailed, classiness abounded. The band, backed by the HB Orchestra, played a bunch of their new stuff, including the lovely and melodic title track from their new album, Hey Eugene and a bunch of stuff in other languages, one that included a marching band and a bunch of guys on crazy carnival stilts. It was fully entertaining, and Thomas Lauderdale, the lead pianist (is there even such a thing?) and founder of the band, merrily chatted us up between songs. As newly re-enamored of them as I was, however, the big moment for me was when Carol Channing took the stage. Carol Channing oh Carol Channing! All jazz hands and crazy voice and gigantic mouth. I have always loved her freaky self, but to get to see her live, in white sequins, was a huge treat. She is larger than life and fully embodied the rendition of There's No Business Like Show Business that she sang along with China and this other guy, Henri Salvatore, a 90 year old French crooner that China helped onstage. As wobbly and semi-disoriented as he seemed, he looked amazing, still worked the sexy thing and the second he opened his mouth and sang in a deep, full French accent, I could tell I was seeing someone important. Overall, it was a fully excellent evening. We even got fireworks. If you haven't seen Pink Martini yet, I highly recommend you do.

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Photo credit: James Wilder Hancock