Saturday, December 12, 2009

The concert: an intermission-sized review

OSLO, Dec. 11, 9:28P, local time

The announcers have paged audience members to return to their seats about three times now. I'm  waiting for a giant hook to go out and scoop everybody up or for the doors to just shut down with massive metal gates shooting up, barring the heathens from re-entering! You have been warned!!!!

This is definitely a fashionable event, though some folks, as is always the case, just missed the mark. By that much.

Here are the quick takes on the show so far:

Stage

Lighting design is incredible, reflecting the passion and prose of each song with color flooding the lit N-O-B-E-L signage on stage. Makes for a dramatic backdrop. The production team truly is first rate. Awards shows at home could take note (are you listening BET?).

Artists
  • Alexander Rybak. The EuroVision winner (think European "Idol") opened with a bang, between his rapid-fire strums on violin to his dreamy pleas on vocals. But his background dancers nearly stole his thunder with their acrobatic movements that coupled traditional Russian hat dance-type steps with Flying Karamazov Brothers-looking choreography. Oomph! My knees ache just watching them pop up and down like that, all the way to the floor on one leg, and popping up again like a Jack-in-the-box.  And then swinging in the air and climbing those cloths, and flipping backward and forward? Yeah. The Belarus-Norwegian Rybak is definitely a hometown pleaser. And that Jada said he was "cute" was enough to raise Will's comic eyebrow, and wit.
  • Westlife. Pleasant enough pop. An offering from the UK, they are reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys, but with better range and writing. "You Raise Me Up" was a tender flourish, and "What About Now" had shades of Creed. Which is not a bad thing.
  • Lang Lang. First of all, cuter than cute Willow Smith comes out and welcomed him to Oslo in Mandarin, since the family spent four months in China recently. It's assumed filming something. Kudos to the Family Smith for introducing multilingual comfort in their home. Sassy Willow, with a long bob on one side, shaved down cut on the other, has her mother's presence. But Lang Lang quickly took over with "Rhapsody in Blue." Backed by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the Chinese classical superstar sent the crowd to the skies for sure.
  • Natasha Bedingfield. I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't up on her, though her single "Pocketful of Sunshine" sounded somewhat familiar. Strong vocals. But I wanted her to brush her hair. Badly.
  • Wyclef Jean. Definitely got "Wyclectic" in that piece. As he sang "Gunpowder," the lyrics hit especially hard: Because the war is not over until you can feel love, peace, and hear the silence. But I smell gunpowder (gunpowder). Philly's gunpowder. Brooklyn's gunpowder. . .. He admitted that he was awed dumb-tonged when he was in the Oslo City Hall with President Obama. He then offered a spoken word piece dedicated to peace, sprinkled with "what-ifs" and slain world figures. Kennedy. King. Malcolm X. Princess Diana. But he brought down the house trying to get the mostly stiff crowd to jam. Especially when he sought out the royals. Priceless moment that defies words. Just watch
More in a moment!

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