On Thursday, December 3, Pink Martini graced the Arlington Theater with its dazzling presence once again, filling all 2,000 seats under the twinkling ceiling. This time, the vivacious singer Storm Large accompanied the Portland-based lounge orchestra with her velvety voice. Arlington’s faux-Spanish villa interior matched the worldly, wondrous songs that satisfied all wanderlust.
Wearing a purple backless evening gown for the first half of the concert, Storm electrified the hall with her coquettish rendition of the German tune “Ich Dich Liebe” and her passionately romantic performance of Pink Martini’s original song “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love.” Enjoying their masterful music-making, the orchestra and Storm swayed to the rhythms against the spectacular jewel tones of the background lighting.
Pink Martini sprinkled their holiday performance with songs from four of their albums: Joy to the World (2010), Hang On Little Tomato(2006), Sympathique (2006), Get Happy(2013). The multilingual and stylistically diverse show featured music and influences from Armenian, Spanish, Croatian, Turkish, Chinese, German, Japanese, Romanian, Jewish, Italian, and English cultures.
While Pink Martini played the Christmas songs “Little Drummer Boy” and “A Snow Globe Christmas,” they also performed the gleeful Hanukkah song “Ocho Kandelikas” in a sizzling Argentine tango-rhythm and the Judeo-Spanish language Ladino, describing a child’s delight of lighting the candles on the menorah.
Storm urged the audience to dance along and join the band onstage, declaring we should celebrate life and love in the face of recent horrors in the world. A mass of the audience made their way to the stage, and the effect was moving and awe-inspiring. The two-hour set was divided by a palate-cleansing intermission; the crowd chatted excitedly about the exhilarating performances they had just witnessed, and the room was abuzz with merriment.
During the second half, Pink Martini delivered their samba version of “Auld Lang Syne” and Storm chanted the Italian sacred ballad “La Vergine Degli Angeli” in a glittering, sequined sky blue gown. The audience laughed throughout the playful Japanese song “Zundoko-Bushi” sung by Timothy Nishimoto, who prefaced his performance by an anecdote about his immigrant uncle Hiro. Astonishingly beautiful trombone, trumpet, and violin solos kept the audience applauding amidst each song.
As the encore grand finale, the band played a simple, luminous “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and the joyful, lavish “Brazil” as the audience conga-lined around the theater. There must be no better way to savor the season than reveling in appreciation of Pink Martini’s music genius.