June 30--HYANNIS -- The first time I saw the 12-piece extravaganza known as Pink Martini in 2011, the music earned a place in my music rotation.
My second experience with the Portland, Ore.,-based band on Saturday at the Cape Cod Melody Tent only served to solidify that place on my list of performers I just simply refuse to live without.
Seriously -- every musician in the group is pretty much perfect. You could watch any one of them for an evening and be perfectly satisfied. Together, they can be mind-blowing.
Frontwoman China Forbes and bandleader/pianist Thomas Lauderdale would be the natural members to choose as linchpins for the band, and their skill is unimpeachable (along with their between-songs banter, which is witty and intimate).
But in reality, without every single member the band just wouldn't be what it is, and luckily Forbes and Lauderdale are the kind of non-divas that allow each and every one of them to shine.
Violinist Nicholas Crosa took center stage on a haunting instrumental duet with Lauderdale, while vocalist/percussionist Timothy Nishimoto carried several songs. Cellist Pansy Chang is impossible to ignore, too.
On Saturday, the band played a combination of music from previous albums plus several songs from the upcoming September album, "Get Happy."
And -- oh yeah -- they did so in no fewer than eight languages. In fact, Forbes truly shines on foreign songs, bringing a European romance to every one of them.
Her duet with Nishimoto on "Midnight Bossa Nova," off the band's album "1969," is a perfect example of that genre (and in Japanese, no less), while her intro of "Amado Mio" set the tone for the evening.
Luckily several of the band's signature named-after-somebody tunes in English, including "Hey Eugene" and "Lilly," showed up too.
When Pink Martini visited the Melody Tent in 2011, longtime frontwoman Forbes was absent owing to recent throat surgery, leaving singer Storm Large to fill her shoes.
And man, did she do just that.
Where Forbes is nuanced and technically near-perfect, Large was big, booming and brassy, the party girl to Forbes' girl-next-door.
But while Large produced a bit of a wilder, sexier show, Forbes infused every song Saturday with languid emotion, from the sassiness she added to "Je Ne Veux Pas Travailler" to the sweet, lullaby-esque love in her "Over the Valley," which she dedicated to her 4-year-old son.
Forbes may not be quite as exuberant, but she and her band fit each other like a glove.
At the beginning of the evening Saturday, Forbes told a wildly enthusiastic Melody Tent audience that, along with the Hollywood Bowl, the tent is the band's favorite venue to play.
And after a two-hour show overflowing with the way-it-used-to-be-done tunes Pink Martini is famous for, it was pretty tough not to feel the same kind of love for the band right back.
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