17 March 2009

An Affair In Red Square: Elect The Dead Symphony

It seems like years ago that I bought my ticket for Serj Tankian's show, but last night I finally got to go!!

He performed with the Auckland Philharmonia at the Town Hall, and it was definitely something special. Hadleigh and I had seats in the front row of the Circle, and although we were maybe a little far away, our view was pretty spectacular as far as I'm concerned.

The orchestra were, as always, incredible - conducted by Hamish McNeish - they put on what I would like to say was the show of their lives, but given their illustrious history, I doubt it. In my defense, Serj did say before the performance that it was the most incredible concert he's ever been a part of. I'm glad I was there.

The show opened with a short overture from the orchestra before Tankian himself appeared on stage in a white tuxedo (a choice that made him near-impossible to photograph) to a reception of rapturous applause. There were some metal kids in the "stalls" downstairs who mostly made a racket throughout the entire show, and who clearly enjoyed themselves.

Serj opened with "Empty Walls", and throughout the show he sung two songs followed by compositions from Armenians, which was unexpected and lovely. Before he played "Baby", Serj told us that while in Paris, he "wrote this song, in a dream. So I didn't really write it. The universe wrote it."

He forgot his special occasion shoes

"Saving Us" was the highlight for me, but "Elect The Dead" and "Honking Antelope" were also stellar. Serj was ever the performer, his gesticulations ranging from playing an imaginary violin, to marching, to just generally being caught up in the orchestra's amazing music. There was something just a little bit Broadway about him, if you take away his unique Baltic-tinged voice that would be out of place in something like "West Side Story".

Hamish introduced the final song to be "Beethoven's Cunt", and following that the orchestra stood up and took their bows while Serj left the stage. The crowd roared, and eventually he returned to play an encore of "Empty Walls".

Obviously the show was a raging success and I expect Serj, Hamish, and all of the members of the APO will be feeling very content this morning.

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