Diana Krall and the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO on 7/18/17

It wasn’t the typical Red Rocks crowd. The cars in the parking lot were a little nicer. The fans walking into the venue were a little more sober. And the music of the evening was a little jazzier. The majority of the men wore all different varieties and colors of Hawaiian shirts (I didn’t get the memo or the reason). Everyone was there for the music of the Great American Song Book performed by Diana Krall and the Colorado Symphony.

The Colorado Symphony – All photos by the Rock and Roll Princess

Christopher Dragon, the talented assistant conductor with cartoon like facial expressions, set the tone. Dragon described growing up in Australia wishing to be a piano player/singer like Diana Krall. His life didn’t exactly follow her path, but Dragon happily led the symphony through classic American standards to warm up the crowd. The Colorado Symphony played Louis Armstrong, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin’s An American in Paris.  Christopher Dragon warned, “the song is not about that famous American (the one with that Twitter account) that recently went to Paris.”

Diana Krall and her band

Diana Krall started playing piano at the age of four in Canada (her family was so Canadian that her brother was in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police). After attending the Berklee College of Music on a scholarship, she moved to Los Angeles, California to play jazz (her brother stayed in Canada with his horse). Success soon followed with collaborations with Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, and Sir Paul McCartney (to name only a few).  She later married some funny looking dude with glasses named Elvis Costello (they have twin ten year old boys).

Diana Krall

The percussion section was removed (Krall has her own drummer).  Her world-class arranger Alan Broadbent replaced Christopher Dragon as the conductor. That’s when Diana Krall and her band took their places in front of the Colorado Symphony. Wearing a blue dress with white stars (an artist that has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide doesn’t simply wear polka dots). Krall expressed how excited she was to be playing Red Rocks. “I don’t usually speak before I start, but who cares. I’m excited.” That was her introduction to Do I Love You. The track featured the amazing guitarist and Eric Clapton doppelgänger Anthony Wilson. It also spotlighted Krall’s amazing piano playing. Her fingers danced across her keyboard with incredible grace and speed. Krall followed that with George and Ira Gershwin’s I Was Doing All Right (made famous by Ella Fitzgerald in 1959), and Cole Porter’s Night and Day.

Diana Krall, her jazz band, and the Colorado Symphony

My favorite song of the night was Tom Wait’s Temptation – “Rusted brandy in a diamond glass/Everything is made from dreams/Time is made from honey slow and sweet/Only the fools know what it means.” It was reassuring to hear that one of my favorite songwriters can hold his own against Gershwin and Porter when performed by the jazz siren Diana Krall.

A sudden gust of wind blew her sheet music up into the lighting rigs. Just as if it was planned, Krall played the tornado theme music from The Wizard of Oz as members of the symphony caught the papers. That’s when Diana Krall admitted that she couldn’t really read the music without her glasses.  “But you people can’t handle me in glasses.” That’s the moment she played Eddie DeLange’s 1933 classic Moonglow. The lyrics summed up the evening perfectly, “We seemed to float right through the air/Heavenly songs seemed to come from everywhere.”

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one chasing after sheet music in a colorful Hawaiian shirt in the moon glow.
 

Pink Martini with The Colorado Symphony and Rufus Wainwright at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 07/06/17

Pink Martini with The Colorado Symphony

There was a joyful atmosphere at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Thursday night. The mature crowd was in a carefree mood. The security guards were pleased to be working at a tranquil event (the opposite of the electric dance music from the previous night). Assistant conductor Christopher Dragon grinned as he led the Colorado Symphony through a spirited night of music spanning across the globe.

Rufus Wainwright and his tiger pants

A bearded Rufus Wainwright wearing a western shirt, pants covered with tiger images, and sandals opened with Oh What A World. The biographical song states, “Why am I always on a plane or a fast train/Oh what a world my parents gave me/Always …. traveling.” Wainwright is the son of folk music legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate MaGarrigle. He has been a traveling musician since the age of 13. The symphony’s string section backed his lofty cabaret voice perfectly during Vibrate (a song about a relationship through cellphone calls). In contrast, Wainwright covered The Beatles’ Across the Universe and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.  When lighting flashed, Wainwright smiled and informed the audience, “It was Leonard.”

Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes

Pink Martini’s Bandleader/pianist Thomas Lauderdale met lead vocalist China Forbes while attending Harvard. They bonded over Puccini and Verdi (also socializing and not studying). A few years after graduating, they formed Pink Martini in Lauderdale’s hometown of Portland, Oregon. The first song they wrote Je ne vex pas travailler (Sympathique) made them a sensation in France and they have been touring the world ever since. Pink Martini describes them selves as The United Nations house band of 1962 meets Lawrence Welk on acid. The music of the evening covered several different languages (thankfully English was one of them).

China Forbes and Conductor Christopher
Dragon of the Colorado Symphony

China Forbes, the self proclaimed Diva Next Door, requested all the Turks in the audience join her on stage while she sang the Turkish Akim Bahardi from their new album Je Dis Oui. Featured singer Timothy Nishimoto shared a story about his Japanese uncle limited English language skills as the introduction to Zundoko Bushi (Nishimoto inserts the phrase “Big One” as a tribute to his uncle during the song). The Armenian love song Ov Sirun Sirun was performed as a duet between Timothy Nishimoto and English horn player Kyle Mustain.  Pink Martini performed the Spanish Yo Te Quiero Siempre, German Ich Dich Liebe, French Joli Garcon, and Croatian U Plavu Zoru. Turning the music back to the English language, Forbes dedicated Song of the Moon to the love of her life whom she meet on the dating app Bumble (an endorsement for online dating).  Fan favorite Eugene got the audience on their feet to the tale of China Forbes drunken encounter with a young man at a party.

Pink Martini – all photos taken by the Rock and Roll Princess

Rufus Wainwright came back to recreate the famous Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand duet Get Happy /Happy Days Are Here Again (Wainwright was Judy and Forbes was Babs). The night ended with their signature song Brasil complete with shakers, horn solos, and a whistle.  “Then tomorrow was another day/The morning found us miles away/With still a million things to say.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one in the tiger pants singing in Croatian.

Denver Broncos Block Party featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Edison at Sports Authority Field Mile High on 7/2/17

Bronco Block Party at the South Lawn at
Sports Authority Field at Mile High

It’s not everyday that you enter a concert and get high-fived by Miles the Denver Broncos Mascot. This was the first Denver Broncos Block Party (the next one will be in September). The crowd was made up of a mixture of Denver Broncos fans thrilled to get a chance to gaze upon all three Denver Bronco Lombardi Trophies and Andrew McMahon fans thrilled to get a chance to gaze upon the man himself.

Andrew McManhon started playing piano by ear at the age of nine. His band Something Corporate were signed to a recording contract two years after McMahon graduated from high school.  He later fronted Jack’s Mannequin a more mainstream piano rock band until 2014. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is his latest musical venture that has produced two albums and one major hit.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Smoke started billowing out from the stage signaling the start of the show. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness got the crowd dancing right away by playing Fire Escape (about being up till dawn) from their latest album Zombies on Broadway. McMahon told the crowd, “If you have something to do tomorrow, cancel it.” This was his introduction to Dead Man’s Dollar about a musician’s sacrifice to earn a living making music.

After playing a large portion of new material, McMahon played songs from his Jack’s Mannequin period.  Dark Blue, a song about isolation, had the crowd singing-a-long passionately and loudly to every lyric. Swim, a ballad written about his fight against leukemia, gave McMahon an opportunity to promote his charity Dear Jack Foundation that raises money for cancer research.

Andrew McMahon and a patriotic pool toy

A rainbow parachute (like children use in gym class) was given to the audience to wave along to the disco inspired Synesthesia.  McMahon pleaded for politics not to divide us, but have music unite us (it might be a good idea to send rainbow parachutes to Washington). Fulfilling his patriotic duty, McMahon crowd surfed on an inflatable eagle asking the crowd not to let him fall on someone (safety first). Cecilia and the Satellite, his biggest hit, closed the show to the crowd once again singing-a-long.  The eagle pool toy sadly did not make another appearance during the encore.

Edison

Denver’s own Edison got the Denver Bronco Block Party started. Singer Sarah Slaton, wearing her signature back fedora, led the band through a set of indie-folk rock melodies about traveling, astrological signs, and raging. The band recently moved out of their apartments and put everything in storage to hit the road in their van named Van Morrison dragged by their trailer named Trailer Swift (awe … road humor). They shared their love for traveling while performing Open Road that has lately received radio airplay. The Denver Bronco Block Party was silenced during Slaton’s battle cry during Civil War, “My head/My Heart/Are raging a civil war.” It sounds like she might need an inflatable pool toy to cheer her up.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one riding an eagle floatation device high-fiving a mascot.