The Mann Center for the Performing Arts is taking Philly’s summer obsession with al fresco movies to a new level.
Next week, Movie Nights at The Mann kicks off, bringing a series of three movies to the incredible outdoor venue, each one accompanied by a live score from The Philadelphia Orchestra. Could there be a better way to experience a movie?
Any human person who can claim to write an objective review of the Phish is lying to himself, his editor and all readers. It is impossible to separate the concert-going experience in all its sweat and smells from the pure musicianship of the band themselves, now in their 30th year playing together.
To the uninitiated, the tie-dyed horde of “phans” that descended on on Tuesday, July 8th may be indistinguishable from the crowds that used to dog the Grateful Dead, America’s original jam band. Though also characterized by an obsessive following of smelly zealots and songs that leap from composed, complicated arrangements into simultaneous free-form improvisation by all four members, Phish’s similarity to the Dead begins and ends right about there.
Is there a more exhilarating sound to a concert-goer’s ears than Diana Ross wailing the opening notes to her signature hit “I’m Coming Out” from somewhere far off-stage? The 1980 hit and unofficial gay anthem has been a staple at Ross’s concerts since its debut, most frequently serving as her opener as she races through the audience, futzing with her always-gargantuan wrap, and singing. It’s a gambit that perfectly encapsulates the legendary performer’s appeal—it is both extravagant and intimate, the gesture of a true diva who still wants to be close to her fans.
Ross, who returned to Philadelphia last night after a 10-year absence, has not changed her M.O. The signature horn blasts of “I’m Coming Out” and Ross’s reedy voice shot out across the twilight before she’d set foot on the stage of the Mann Center. As part of the “In The Name of Love Tour,” the 70-minute Wednesday night concert was a reliable trip down memory lane, revisiting a surfeit of the former Supreme’s hits from the ’60s and ’70s. Indeed, the 34-year-old show opener was the most current of Ross’ hits to be performed.
He might have described it as the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “wet t-shirt contest night”—a cash-cow ploy to put the philistines’ asses in the seats. But despite the flippant quip, piano man Ben Folds’ “Orchestral Experience” concert at the Mann Center proved a beautifully synergetic meeting point of the pop and classical styles.
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You know what the doctor says: A little music every day keeps the blahs away. To help, we round up a concert for every day of this week.
There is likely nowhere in Philadelphia better suited to host Willie Nelson than the Mann Center — if not because nothing says summer like sitting on a blanket under the stars listening to “On the Road Again,” then because the smell of weed just doesn’t waft so discreetly in, say, the Academy of Music as it does from the Mann’s, er, grass seating.