Marc Anthony, Chayanne
And Alejandro Fernandez
As Latin American flags, and the occasional pair of panties, sailed past their heads, singers Alejandro Fernandez, Chayanne and Marc Anthony performed for a gigantic shrieking mass of female fans at Nissan Pavilion on Saturday night. The trio served up the smoldering gazes and air kisses required of male pop stars, but didn't let their dreamboat duties get in the way of a dynamic three-hour show.
Dressed in a mariachi outfit, Fernandez began the show with soft ballads and songs dedicated to his native Mexico, such as "Guadalajara." But the singer switched to leather pants and pop tunes, including last year's "Canta Corazon," midway through his set.
Dishy platinum-selling star Chayanne couldn't match Fernandez in belting out ballads, but his choreographed routines spiced up dance hits "Torero," "Caprichosa" and "Boom Boom."
Although headliner Anthony long ago abandoned his spectacles, and his wife, Jennifer Lopez, is working to fatten up the skinny salsero, he isn't as hunky as Fernandez or Chayanne. But his incredible voice more than makes up for what he lacks in muscle mass. The Puerto Rican singer kept the crowd enthralled with hits such as "Nadie Como Ella" and "Te Conozco Bien," both from 1995's "Todo a Su Tiempo," that mixed powerhouse vocals and salsa rhythms. The audience became restless and distracted during "I Need to Know," the performance's only English tune, but not because Anthony dropped the salsa: When a well-manicured hand appeared from behind a curtain off the main stage, the crowd began trying to link the extremity to Lopez.
Anthony squelched speculation by pulling Lopez onstage for just a moment, but her brief appearance upstaged the heartthrobs. Lopez's tiny wave got louder cheers than Fernandez's sexiest stare, Chayanne's most complicated dance move and even Anthony's longest held note.
-- Sarah Godfrey
Pallavi Mahidhara's piano recital on Saturday at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville was satisfying for any number of reasons. The program included the Mozart Fantasy in C Minor, K.475, and Sonata in C Minor, K.457, all 16 of the Brahms Op. 39 Waltzes and three of Liszt's more thoughtful smaller pieces. But there was also a wonderfully playful and intricately structured sonata by George Walker, a piece that ought to be performed more often. All of this was played with a technical assurance that kept the focus on the music and not on the notes, and the program's very differing idioms were drawn subtly and with imagination.
Most satisfying, however, is that fact that Mahidhara, who just graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda and is enrolled at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, is where she ought to be at this stage of a career headed for artistic significance.
She has developed the ability to play with balance and a remarkably even touch. Her runs and arpeggio passages are light and sound effortless. She can bring out inner voices without their sounding premeditated. The polyphonic lines of the fifth of the Brahms waltzes, for instance, were convincingly lyrical.
Her powers of concentration are prodigious; she seemed as focused through to the end of the concluding Liszt "Mephisto Waltz" No. 1 as she did in the Mozart sonata.
Certainly there are things she has to work on. There were loud attacks that sounded percussive when they might better have welled up from the piano. Pregnant pauses were sometimes not as pregnant as they could have been, and the Mozart fantasy sounded much more tentative than the sonata that followed. But Mahidhara, who has come this far as a student at the Levine School of Music, seems to have everything needed for a successful solo career. Her next stop, Curtis, is a place that can take her there.
-- Joan Reinthaler
Elton John has been in the news more often for his candor than his music lately, and Saturday night at MCI Center, he didn't try to hide the fact that the 2005 Elton is a much-changed man. "For a long time, I did a lot of drugs and drank a lot of booze," the now-sober 58-year-old told the capacity crowd as he introduced "My Elusive Drug," dedicated to his longtime partner, David Furnish.
It was one of the eight predominantly mellow selections from John's latest record, "Peachtree Road," that he chose to kick off this first of two sold-out shows, which the formerly flamboyant piano man performed in a simple black ankle-length coat and silk pajama bottoms. John rarely interacted with the audience during his nearly three-hour set, though he frequently stood from his piano to soak up the adulation once he launched into the hits from his heyday. "Levon," "Philadelphia Freedom" and an epic version of "Rocket Man" were highlights of the classic-rock retrospective that filled the bulk of the show.
Backed by a fine quintet and a mini-choir, John was in strong voice throughout the evening, though the high notes of old were noticeably absent. More surprising, though, was John's lone costume change: To close the night, John performed his standard valentine to his fans, "Your Song," in . . . a track suit. It seems the erstwhile fashionista has settled down for good.
-- Tricia Olszewski
Some musicians let their songs stand alone and reject any request for interpretation. Not Bill Miller, a singer-songwriter of German and Mohican descent. Friday night at the National Museum of the American Indian's Rasmuson Theater, Miller eventually demonstrated his skills as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. But he began with a rambling discourse on his life, family, career and work, which was just the first of many monologues. Miller was so chatty, in fact, that in the course of an 80-minute show he managed to perform only 10 songs.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Miller is now based in Nashville, where he's aligned with songwriters who owe more to folk-rock and art song than to traditional country music. That was illustrated by his choice of accompanist, pianist and backing vocalist Joshua Yudkin, who imbued songs such as "Never Too Far" with hints of cocktail lounge jazz. While such originals as "Ghost Dance" and "Reservation Sky" addressed the American Indian experience, in form and message they were largely conventional.
The performer's earnest lyrics were echoed in his between-songs raps, which relied on the vernaculars of New Age spirituality and 12-step recovery.
While there were glimmers of humor in his remarks, Miller's guitar playing was a lot looser than his commentary. That's why the show's highlight was not one of the singer's own compositions, but rather the blues standard "Stormy Monday," the only time that Miller showed he could transform a lament into a thing of joy.
-- Mark Jenkins
"This is a song you'll never hear on country radio," Jon Langford proclaimed at the start of his multimedia presentation at Iota on Saturday night. Then he and Sally Timms traded verses of "The Plans We Made," which ended with two people "eternally bound with a lethal injection."
Langford contends that the music business sanitizes art the way that the government sanitizes reality by bringing war dead home under cover of darkness. But lest he get too preachy, VJ Barry Mills was at the ready, cuing up short videos featuring Langford, eye-patched and parrot-shouldered, singing salty doggerel.
It was that kind of show: about several things but always about something. Langford spun yarns about his British childhood, his punk career and his relationship with "hard country," while Mills projected images from Langford's death-obsessed, deliberately aged-looking paintings and etchings. These fans of harsh reality also revealed themselves as romantics, with songs about love, death and morality, many of them set to a booze-soaked waltz beat and embellished with searing notes from Langford's electric and acoustic guitars, Jean Cook's violin and Timms's ukulele.
The players, who also included bassist Tony Maimone and drummer Dan Massey, never forgot the mandate to entertain as well as make a point. Their hearts weren't so much on their sleeves as in their notes. Still, it was a revelation to realize, via this impassioned and totally straight performance, that Tom Jones's "Delilah" is a murder ballad.
-- Pamela Murray Winters
Pianist Pallavi Mahidhara, headed for college and a fine career.
Latin music stars Marc Anthony, left, Alejandro Fernandez and Chayanne, seen in concert last month, performed Saturday night at Nissan Pavilion.