Yanni has achieved much of his fame over the past two-plus decades with grandiose outdoor concerts at places such as the Acropolis, the Taj Mahal and, most recently, El Morro, Puerto Rico.
But the new age music stalwart said he gets just as much of a thrill from the comparatively intimate setting of an indoor arena.
“I’ve done venues with the tens of thousands of people. And I’ve done venues with 2,000 people, maybe even less, 1,700 probably the smallest,” he told reporters in a teleconference last month. “When you’re going through a smaller venue, the concert changes. You can touch the audience. It’s like you’re here in your living room all of a sudden with a bunch of your friends and you’re talking to them.
“So I find myself when I do a concert in the smaller venue, I’m enjoying it a lot because I get to hear everything everybody says, or sometimes I engage them in a conversation and we start talking,” he added. “They ask me questions. I start talking back.”
Now 57, Yanni will make his fourth appearance in the Quad-Cities and his first since 2003 with a concert Saturday night at the i wireless Center in Moline.
Yanni’s concerts are known for their lighting and other technical aspects, but the Greek native likens them to living life.
“It’s not all just beauty or just edginess. It’s both and everything in between,” he said. “So I try to take the audience through a journey if I can. The journey lasts a couple of hours, so a significant amount of time to keep people’s attention. And we do very well from what I’ve seen playing around the world. And I’m grateful for that.”
The world traveler and performer rattles off memories of shows and visits to six continents, ranging from filling sandbags during flooding in Thailand to more recently “adopting” a baby panda in China.
“One of the nicest things about my career has been that it has allowed me the opportunity to travel all over the world and go into places where most people wouldn’t be able to get in,” he said. “I had come in contact with so many cultures. And it’s been going on for quite a lot of years. So that changes a human being. It opens your mind. The lessons are myriad when you come in contact with so many cultures.”
Seeing the sights that many never get the chance to is an unexpected perk of his job, he said.
“It changes you. It brings such a hope,” he said. “It brings the best out of you.”