Pink Martini | Credit: China Thomas

Like all of our favorite fancy cocktails, Friday’s Pink Martini show at the Granada, had a dash of this and a splash of that to create a captivating concoction that’s entirely unique and extremely fun. The base libation for this perennial UCSB Arts & Lectures favorite group is, of course, their international repertoire of songs in all sorts of languages (25 different ones I’m told). 

From the opening notes in Spanish of “Amado Mio” — famously lip-synced by Rita Hayworth in Gilda, and recorded in the ‘80s by Grace Jones — it was clear that this version of “Love me forever and let forever begin tonight” was going to be a unique one, flavored by the vocal stylings of lead singer China Forbes.

Forbes and her Harvard pal Thomas Lauderdale (who founded the “little orchestra” in 1994 to upgrade the musical offerings at all of the rubber chicken political fundraisers he was attending) began their musical collaboration in 1995, and they definitely connect onstage like old friends. Their second song of the night was the first song they wrote together — “Sympathique” (Je ne veux pas travailler or “I don’t want to work”), which became an overnight sensation in France and is still a mantra for striking French workers.

It’s hard to play favorites with a show that has such an eclectic mix of music, but the most hauntingly beautiful tune, at least to my ear, was the Croatian song “U plavu zoru,” which began with a stunning violin solo by Nicholas Krosa. 

The appearance of America’s Got Talent’s 2021 Golden Buzzer winner Jimmie Herrod was another show stopping moment. His unexpected belting of a new version of “Exodus” (an old Pat Boone song with the lyrics “This land is ours; This land’s for you, for me”) was just as stirring as his version of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie, which won him AGT’s highest honor. 

With such a long song list to choose from, Pink Martini opened up the second half of the show to requests, resulting in a sometimes jarring but still entertaining mix of songs, including “Hang on Little Tomato,” “Hey Eugene,” “The Girl From Ipanema” and the one they always play for an encore, “Brazil.” 

All in all, it was a fun and frothy night with the big little orchestra.

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