Tickled pink to be back: Pink Martini returns to the Fox to share the stage with the Spokane Symphony

·3 min read

Jan. 28—Whether you've only heard "Sympathique" ("Je ne veux pas travailler") or you know the words to every song (despite them being written in 25 different languages), a Pink Martini performance is not to be missed.

As ticket sales for Saturday's show with the Spokane Symphony prove — less than five single tickets remain as of press time — it's clear that locals agree. Not to mention this is hardly Pink Martini's first sold-out show in Spokane. But what makes them such a pull for the Pacific Northwest year after year?

"The music is exhilarating and uplifting," group founder and pianist Thomas Lauderdale said. "I think it brings a lot of happiness, and especially in this period of time — these last couple of years have been so devastating to so many people in different ways.

"But I think that this music and the band carry reminders of the beauty that can still exist in the world, which is often really tough to see."

Lead vocalist China Forbes agreed, sharing the band's recent experience performing in Wenatchee for the first time.

"It was interesting because they've been waiting for us to come for so long that there was this incredible energy — people who were just like dying to see the band, which was so nice," she said. "It was an amazing night.

"I think, in general, people are appreciative that this band ... brings the whole world into the concert ... with all the languages we sing and the different styles we play, it's like a trip around the world for the price of a concert ticket."

The last stop on their winter tour, Pink Martini, who Lauderdale formed in Portland in 1994, is returning to Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox for the first time since the outset of the pandemic.

Looking forward to reuniting with the Spokane Symphony, conducted by music director James Lowe, "the little orchestra," as Pink Martini is nicknamed, will perform a series of audience favorites, several newer works and an orchestral premiere at 8 p.m. Saturday. The concert will also feature singer Edna Vazquez.

"We're doing a piano four-hands version of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue,' " Lauderdale said. Lauderdale will perform the piece alongside Hunter Noack, accompanied by the Spokane Symphony at the top of the second half. "It'll be our first time performing this version with orchestra."

"There was this moment where it just seemed like we were never going to go back to live concerts," Forbes said. "So now it's surreal that we've been doing it again since the end of July without any problems or cancellations."

Knock on wood. While live performances weren't possible for much of the past two years, Forbes was able to spend extra time locked away in her home studio hard at work on her upcoming album.

"Ideas come to me when I'm traveling for melodies and lyrics and titles, and then when I go home, I kind of put it all together ... so I had all of these starts of songs that I was able to flesh out and finish," she said, referring to her recent singles "Rise" and "Full Circle."

Resuming the group's touring schedule was no easy task.

"After such a long time off," Forbes said. "I think the hardest part is that we're older every year, and it's just a little bit harder to do," she said, noting the added roadblocks brought on by the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns.

"But the music is great, and it's really fun to get to do it again."

For more information, visit spokanesymphony.org or call the box office at (509) 624-1200.