A Look Back: Yanni’s Halloween Concert at the Giza Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt
By Dylan Carragher
The Giza Pyramids are over 4, 574 years old, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still left on earth. When visiting you can’t help but be filled with a sense of primordial power, that our short time on Earth is nothing compared to these ancient structures. Phil Lesh said it himself “there is definitely some kind of mojo about the pyramids.” When a chance came to attend a concert at the Giza Sound and Light Theater, the same stage the Grateful Dead played their Rocking the Craddle: Egypt 1978 concert at, it was impossible to turn it down.
Just as the Giza Pyramids are a place like no other on earth, Yanni is a musician like no other on earth. Yanni is currently embarking on a massive world tour, he it kicked off with two night at the Giza Pyramids. Going into the Yanni’s The Dream Concert I had no idea what to expect from the 60 year old music veteran. What I got out of it was a mind blowing performance by a group of world class musicians at one of the most unique concert venues.
The stage was back dropped by the Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx with a full percussion set, full drum kit, three keyboards, a Grand piano, and three harps on stage, the crowd was ready for Yanni. The orchestra of 15 came out with intensity for their introduction song, which after was joined by Yanni for the first song “One Man’s Dream”. The song was a powerful instrumental that showed off Yanni’s ability to play amazing piano while conducting a stage full of musicians. The song Keys To Imagination brought the concerts tempo up and was an astonishing blend of sounds from around the world that resonated across the Pyramids.
The night wasn’t just emotionally moving instrumentals and world music, but also consisted of complex songs flooded with electronic music synthesizers and solos. The song “Vertigo” revealed the orchestras of classically trained musicians could interweave their song with the psychedelic mixing of Ming Freeman on keyboards. It was the solos of the orchestra that made “Dream Concert” turn into a musical trance. With Gabriel Vivas at times laying down funky bass lines that you couldn’t even get at a Primus show, while being companied by Yoel Del Sol on percussions infusing every song with the sounds of Cuba.
Charlie Adam’s took the lead on his song Marching Season, which was made up almost entirely by a drum solo lasting over 6 minutes and the closest thing to seeing Buddy Rich a person could experience. If that wasn’t enough, Victor Espinola from Paraguay then went on to play his harp in way that blended classical music with Jimmy Page style guitar solos. Not many people in the crowd were aware that a harp could be played with such intensity.
It’s the mixing of jazz, classical, rock, electronic and world music that makes the Yanni experience, which can only really be appreciated at his live shows. The culmination of this musical interweaving was one of the last songs of the night “The Storm”. With the Pyramids and the Sphinx lit with lights and fireworks it was a song that turned the night into some sort of new age classical rave on the steps of an ancient civilization.