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When you try to explain what and who 2Cellos is and are outside of the fandom, you get a lot of puzzled looks. For example, I was having a lunch date with my father-in-law yesterday and when he asked me my plans for the week, I told him about last night’s show.
“Well, they’re these classically trained cellists from eastern Europe who became London based, and competed for the same spots in orchestras. Even though they were working in classical music, they were trying to make some money when someone suggested YouTube. So, they recorded a cover version of Michael Jackson’s, "Smooth Criminal," and it went viral. Now, they do sold out concerts all over the world covering pop, rock, and movie scores. Oh and they’re hot guys, so it’s like rockstars with cellos.”
“Like orchestral karaoke?” He asked.
Now it was my turn for a puzzled look.
“No, like super awesome elevator music, but with two hot guys playing cellos.”
At this point we were both silently staring at each other, so I just took out my phone and played the YouTube video in question.
“Ah! Yes! I see now!” My father-in-law exclaimed, now understanding what I was trying to explain to him, “They’re good!”
Now since I’ve shared with you how an introduction to 2Cellos typically goes, let’s talk about their concert. After two sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York City last weekend, they made their way to Atlanta for a nearly sold out show at The Fox Theatre, a venue change from the previously scheduled Infinite Energy Arena.
Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser hit the stage with their Yamaha electric cellos, percussionist, and ten-piece orchestra. Having seen them live before, I was interested in how this tour has evolved over time. It’s very easy for instrumental artists to become Yanni and the show becomes formulaic, with some pyro here and there for pizzazz, because you’re playing an instrument the whole time. It’s not like you can to an aerial act or dance number while playing a cello. Not that Luka and Stjepan don’t try. They do get mobile with those things, which is…um… an artistic choice.
Honestly, they are classical musicians who are good at classical music. They played all of their most known covers, encouraged a sing-a-longs, and kept it simple and fun, playing songs you already know. So yeah, it was like classical karaoke, except with really good musicians.
It’s entertaining and a good time. A bit hard for true classical music enthusiasts to endure, but what’s great about 2Cellos is that they have brought people who wouldn’t otherwise have known anything about classical music into the fold. There is something really cool about being surrounded by a wall of orchestral sound when the Game of Thrones song is playing versus hearing it on your television.
The venue change for this show was a good choice. The Fox Theatre has the acoustics to resound the richness of the orchestra and allow you to hear how Lukas and Stejpan create these cascades of tones and highlights rather than just a cold play, Muzak song tinning its way over the loud speakers in the frozen foods section. It was a better sound production this way, and the vastness of the venue didn’t swallow the art onstage or simply make it a cacophony of percussion and strings overwhelming your ears.
I do think 2Cellos' next venture needs to be in original composition. While I understand the need to attract and grow a fanbase, they are now at the point where the covers are going to become tiresome, and their talent is too vast to not at least weave some original songs into the standards, or even some well known classical standards into the pop/rock/soundtrack hits they have in rotation. There were a few points in the show where I felt a moody Rachmaninov interlude would have tied in seamlessly and lent a little more depth to the overall musicianship of the show. There are ways to showcase their classical training without continuing to play to the gallery in order to fill seats. It’s a nitpicky criticism, but one that would bring the experience to the next level, keep the classical fans interested and the pop fans entertained.
Overall, a well played and well-produced show. If 2Cellos makes its way through your town, it’s a recommended ticket purchase.