Sara and I had the privilege to see Max Raabe & the Palast Orchester at the Overture Center in Madison, WI tonight. Immediately we were transported back to a pre-WWII time in Germany when the music was beautiful, ironic and a little creepy. The closing credits to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (Midnight, Stars and You) immediately came to mind.
The musicianship was outstanding and Max Raabe is just fun to watch. Standing on stage leaning on the piano, hair slicked back while wearing a tux with full tails, your band playing while you wait to sing–you can’t look much cooler. It was a solid show and the sound at the Overture didn’t disappoint.
Playing a lot of big band songs in high school as well as the UW Band, I have an appreciation of the tightness of the 12 piece Palast Orchester surrounding Max. Many of the members played 2 or 3 instruments, crossing from trombone to violin with ease. The crowd at the Overture, while by no means packed, was also very appreciative. Max and company did a couple of enthusiastic encores. The fact that most of the songs were in German added a mysticism to it all.
If you have a chance to see them live, I’d highly recommend it. I don’t know of an act touring that is anything like them, especially at their level of ability. I bought their live CD at Carnegie Hall, but they also have a DVD available. Good stuff.
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