Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Max Raabe

I found out about the musician Max Raabe in a throughly modern way. I first read about him on a blog earlier this year. Intrigued by the description, I went to YouTube and found come clips. After that, I was intrigued a lot more.

Imagine if Herr Raabe (for he is German) were the sort that got bent out of shape by such clearly copyrighted material appearing on YouTube -- as certain media conglomerates are. If so, the clips I saw might not be on line. In that case, I might have read about him and the Palast Orchester, but that's about as far as I would have gotten. I'm not 17. I'm not going to aggressively seek out new music.

I certainly wouldn't have bought tickets to his show at the Paramount Theatre last Saturday without seeing those clips. What a concept: YouTube as a marketing tool. You'd think an entertainment behemoth like Viacom would be all over that.

A few weeks ago, I heard on radio station WDCB that Raabe was coming to the Paramount, and I knew that I wanted to go, and that Yuriko would probably like him too. It helped that tickets were moderately priced compared to idiot pop stars or hyped sports events.

Raabe's specialty is dance and film music of Weimar Germany. Well, not quite, because some of his playlist on Saturday included American dance and film from roughly the same period, and a few of the songs were post-1933. Still, as Raabe pointed out during the show, he and the 12-piece Palast Orchester recreated all the songs using the original arrangements.

He also sings covers of more contemporary songs, though none were included in the show we went to. Such as this. And his own songs, such as this, which I understand is about cloning.

The show in Aurora was one of the best concerts I've been to in years. (I don't go to many, but still.) It was like being transported to Berlin in 1929, overlooking the slight inconsistency of the early '30s songs. The only thing missing was a brawl between brownshirts and reds in one of the aisles, though that probably would have alarmed most of the audience.


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