Christina Aguilera Gets Brassy with LA Phil at Hollywood Bowl: Review
“Her voice – it’s like butter,” said a Hollywood Bowl boss on Friday night, using the familiar “SNL”-derived description of Barbra Streisand’s voice and applying it to the headliner of the weekend, Christina Aguilera. Not to criticize the reviews of esteemed subscription holders, but that comparison seemed dead wrong. Aguilera’s voice is not like butter; if anything, it’s like bourbon. Or maybe a good steak… a small one, of course. She has her stratospheric registers and isn’t afraid to use them, but most of the appeal of her vocals is how she can get all the way down her guts while still staying at maximum volume. It’s an approach that could easily overthrow a Hollywood Bowl, or any orchestra in it. So, more kudos to whoever was in charge of the mixing at this weekend’s shows. When you place a singer as tall as Aguilera in front of the LA Philharmonic and Aguilera doesn’t “win”, it’s mission accomplished.
Of all the concerts we’ve seen at the Bowl over the years that paired a pop singer with the LA Phil or the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and there are more than a few, this was one of the best, as long as the singer is doing something that fits with what brought her to dance, but has some value-added elements that don’t overlook the fact that she’s actually at a high society ball. It was partly a piece with its series of shows in Las Vegas (so abruptly cut off by the pandemic 16 months ago), featuring dancers, and partly a Boston Pops night that included a squishy funk band. and any split in the difference was not too much of a problem. Of course there were some of those awkward moments he was fair Aguilera’s touring band playing for an entire number, where, as always with these things, you imagine the thought bubbles above the heads of Phil’s members as they wonder if they really spent it all. this time in Juilliard just to be able to sit on their hands while 10 dancers strut around. But it’s a good compromise that some of Aguilera’s loudest songs – like “Lady Marmalade” – can be played at their loudest volume, without trying to figure out how to fit an oboe, while a majority of the setlist really made room for deliciously written and truly audible orchestral arrangements.
At the start of her 70-minute set, it wasn’t entirely clear whether it could be an even more dutifully categorized show than it actually was. The conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Phil had taken the first hour of the show to themselves, ending with a reading of Marquez’s “Danzon No. 8” which was such a sublime match of maestro music on a hot evening. , a second half might have seemed superfluous, fan of “Dirrty” or not. When the whole company returned after the intermission, the set was adorned with a very large iceberg, which looked like we might have accidentally strayed into a Celine Dion show instead. Guesses that there might be a ladder behind this iceberg were confirmed when Aguilera appeared at the top, singing Harry Warren’s “At Last”, which might have created expectations for a true “pops” versus pop show. But that wasn’t a giveaway for an overly altered course: “At Last” – which got to Aguilera via Etta James – is something Aguilera sang on her show half as much as she never sang. “Genie in a Bottle”. And from this downward downward spiral, it was off to contemporary R&B banger and power ballad pop races.
“This is the time of a lifetime,” Aguilera exclaimed at first, “because my mother was a violinist, and she traveled with the youth symphony orchestra when she was 15, 16, so I was remember all those images of her playing the violin every night in our living room and just being around classical music all my life. The singer put together a list of influences, being “originally of course inspired by them. great Rodgers and Hammerstein, and ‘The Sound of Music’ being the first thing that ever spoke to me musically. And I wanted to be Julie Andrews on the hills, tonight is that time for me! She then started checking out Danny Elfman’s collaborations with Tim Burton and the work of composers Philip Glass and Nicholas Britell taking into account what was about to happen, which may be really created expectations different from what was delivered (unfortunately Aguilera didn’t cover either “So Long, Farewell” or the theme of “Koyaanisqatsi”), but the desire to expose that she is not a dilettante coming into this world is understandable.
Have there been any costume changes? Yes, a lot of costume changes, but no Dudamel costume changes waiting for five minutes. When Aguilera disappeared and then reappeared while Phil played interludes (or, in one case, his band was vamping on “What a Girl Wants”), the singer returned with a new and improved level of props, which It could be a feather boa or a necklace Audrey Hepburn would have died to wear in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. The pile of hair above her head has remained the same, resembling a spectacular piece of light oak origami, much like the painted black bodysuit, which would have been impossible to undo during a vampire. Aguilera has really mastered how to create a new look in 20 bars or less: Diamonds, or something like them, are a girl’s best friend when it comes to instant reinvention, not an estate. of Bob Mackie counterfeits.
An easy joke to make, seeing her dating the Phil, was that we certainly wouldn’t hear “Dirrty” tonight. Except that we did hear “Dirrty” tonight, and it sounded good with the Phil adding some well-crafted bonus drama tension – just as good as when they added a more predictable tenor to the “Beautiful” closing. And despite all the hands-off approach that was used when the orchestra was silent for five of the 14 selections, they found a way to make “Ain’t No Other Man” not noticeably more funk with the addition of a hundred musicians. . It was a tidy match at the end: the LA Philharmonic brought in the brass and Christina Aguilera brought in the brass balls.
The set list:
At Last / JB Intro / Ain’t No Other Man
genie in a bottle
The voice inside
Peaches / Can’t Hold Us Down (tacet orchestra)
Twice (tacet orchestra)
Xpress / Lady Marmalade (tacet orchestra)
Contigo (tacet orchestra)
What does a girl want (silent orchestra)
it’s a man’s world