Since Shanghaiist has indie cred to burn, we don’t feel that we need to justify our decision to attend the Kenny G concert last night. The show was two hours of jazz-lite — he actually only played one song and then just held the final note (an E-flat, we believe) for another hour and 55 minutes. Ok, unfortunately he played a lot of songs, including: that one pop song where he holds a note for a long time, that sort of latin song where he holds a note for a long time, that one that’s almost bebop where he holds a note for a long time, and funk classic “Pick Up The Pieces”. “Wait, can Kenny G bring the funk?” we hear you asking. No. But his band can.
While we wouldn’t ever listen to a Kenny G CD, we have to admit that he puts on a decent live show. He’s a gracious performer, setting up strategic breaks in the set where his band members are given the spotlight and 15 minutes to get all the jazz out of their systems before resuming the program. The highlight of the evening came during one of these breaks, where percussionist Ron Powell played an amazing conga solo before leading the audience in a pandeiro call and response. (Note to musicians visiting Shanghai: Chinese people don’t know “shave-and-a-haircut.”)
We enjoyed the musicianship of the band, and due to years of experience riding elevators were able to endure Kenny G’s saxophone playing, but we could’ve done without the obligatory butchery of the Chinese language and circular breathing lesson. The (mostly Chinese) audience loved it, though — they hummed along with many of the tunes, and G’s version of “The Moon Represents My Heart” had everyone swaying in their seats and clapping very close to the beat. Overall, the nicest thing we can say is that we didn’t fall asleep … until very close to the end.
Video is from the Beijing show, but whatever, you know you’re not going to watch it.