Laissez les bons temps rouler.
That's French for "let the good times roll," and the unofficial motto of Mardi Gras. And that's what people did at the latest Long Beach Symphony POPS! concert, "Mardi Gras Madness," the other night at the Arena.
It's entirely possible that during the evening adult beverages were consumed, which helped fuel the revelry. Whatever. The evening was all about fun, and the mood definitely festive and celebratory. I didn't have to do what one usually has to do on Bourbon Street to score some beads, which is just as well.
On the podium (actually, there was no podium, but you know what I mean) was a familiar figure, the multi-talented Matt Catingub. Seated at the drums was dynamic percussion powerhouse Steve Moretti. And the guest vocalist was a charismatic, and very talented, chanteuse named Ginai.
The music, instrumental — "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans," "St. Louis Blues," "King Porter Stomp" — and vocal — "Mardi Gras Mambo," "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans," of course "When the Saints Go Marching In," etc. — was all appropriate to the Mardi Gras theme, and performed with great style and energy. The orchestra was in spectacular form, Catingub gave each section an opportunity to show off, every player who had a solo was phenomenal, and the rhythm section was dynamite.
I've liked Catingub in his previous appearances with our POPS! He has a breezy, casually ingratiating manner that immediately engages his audience, and is super talented, whether conducting, playing the sax or piano, or singing. Moretti is an insanely gifted drummer, who injects ferocious, almost maniacal virtuosity into everything he does.
And then there's Ginai. It's considered off limits these days to comment on a female performer's appearance or attire, so I won't mention that she's stunningly gorgeous, or that her sparkly dresses were a knockout. She sang about half the first half, and almost all the second, every song with a winning personality and that sexy, sultry, sometimes brassy sound this material demands. She flashed that dazzling smile on the big screens, and I was hooked.
Highlights? The whole evening flowed so smoothly, and everything was performed at such a high level, that every piece was a highlight. From start to finish, the stage sizzled. Certainly Moretti's extended solo at the end of the first half was one. The aforementioned "When The Saints" brought the house down. And I'm told that Ginai's encore, "After You've Gone," was also terrific; unfortunately, she sang it after I'd gone.
My late Uncle Ben, who was something of a philosopher, always used to say that life was about food, friends, family, and fun. That could also be the motto of our POPS! and this one in particular. There was lots of food (and drink), people enjoyed the company of friends and family, and it was a lot of fun.
Let the good times roll.