If Yanni wasn’t a record breaking composer, he would have earned a comfortable living sound-tracking television sporting montages.
To say the 64-year-old’s Greek American maestro has a penchant for the dramatic is an understatement.
From the triumphant horns and crashing symbols, to the sweeping strings and propulsive percussion, Yanni’s compositions have the ability to make an egg and spoon race sound thrilling.
Reason one: Yanni says it best when saying nothing at all
But that doesn’t explain why he remains loved the world over, from normal folk to world leaders who handed him the keys to scared places such as China’s Forbidden City, India’s Taj Mahal and most recently, Egypt’s Giza Pyramids in 2017, to stage his concert spectacles.
One of the reasons is that Yanni's soufflé light instrumental pieces, and evocative titles such as One Man's Dream and Reflections of Passion, have the ability to seep into you and whisper life affirming messages while simultaneously saying nothing at all.
It is similar to reading the daily horoscope and you swear the astrologist has written the day’s message directly to you – where in reality, it is just another generic horoscope reading.
This perhaps explains why Yanni commands a loyal and fervent fan base, while music critics avoid his work like the plague.
I explored the Yanni conundrum further when checking out his Abu Dhabi performance last night at the Du Forum. I was a first time Yanni-er.
It was by far the most diverse crowd I have seen at a UAE gig yet; it ranged from hipster couples and kandora clad gentlemen to those who clearly never attended a concert before – one lady’s unsuccessful attempt to smuggle in a bunch of samosas in her handbag was a dead giveaway.
All were packed tight to see Yanni command his signature eight keyboards station (a nearby grand piano was used occasionally) and his 13-piece band, including one soprano, take the stage for what was a sprawling two-hour set.
Reason two: Yanni creates a mood
The length time for the performance is not down to generosity, but was, in fact, necessity. That’s the second reason for his success, Yanni’s music is not interested in seizing your nervous system with hooks.
A psychology graduate himself, Yanni’s knows the best way to get his point across is through sustained messaging. His music ebbs and flows and is all about creating a mood.
Yanni only paused a few times to provide small introductions to songs, instead, preferring to neatly dip into the next track, lest that spell is broken.
But, as much I hate to admit it and going against all my analytical skills, the whole thing works.
By the time the floral string passages and flutes of the Asiatic With an Orchid arrived I was swept away, my shoulders swayed while I dreamed about being blissfully lost on a mountain top in Bhutan.
With the cascading arpeggios of the nocturnal Nostalgia, I was transported to a solitary boat, cruising down a river with my destination unknown – a grand feat considering I am scared of the ocean.
And when the crowd was summoned by the introductory Olympic sized trumpets of Santorini, towards the end of the set, I felt like throwing a javelin into the night sky.
Reason three: Yanni makes everything feel better
And just like that, when an appreciative Yanni left the stage to a standing ovation, those feelings slowly dissolved to be replaced by the gnawing disappointment of facing the traffic on the way home. But, I walked back to my car feeling lighter and slightly more optimistic with the state of the world.
That is the third and, perhaps, the most important reason for Yanni’s appeal. For a few brief hours he makes this whole existence thing feel more bearable. That is ultimately way cooler than being thought of as cool.