What is all the fuss about this Blue Man Group? Where to start? It could be the drumming, every kind of tapping and beating stationary and hardly stationary objects, from pipes to containers and a few other things mixed in. In short, it was a percussionist’s dream.
But, as Blue Man fans found out Saturday afternoon at the WFCU Centre in Windsor’s east end, the show goes well beyond clever percussion aided by a very astute bassist among the four musicians in the orchestra pit, which actually was on the second level of the stage.
What is particularly unique is the ability of the three Blue stars of the show to express themselves more so than their drumming, which is exceptional. While they move about the stage, off the stage and onto a second level without a perceived care, they do with a very practiced skill of conveying their thoughts to the audience without saying a word. It harkens back to the early silent movies.
Back when film cameras were invented, the technology did not allow actors to speak. Facial expression told their tales. In the movies, cameras readily zoomed in on those expressions. On a stage, like the one set up in the main bowl of the Arena and in front of more than a thousand witnesses, the challenge for the trio is to display their emotions, regrets and intentions through exaggerated motions behind their trademark heavy blue painted faces.
It was done so well that there were no problems comprehending the story line.
Add to that, as there often is in any group, was one out-of-sync member. But, that member – a definite contrarian, never in lock step with what is going on – gives the show its personality and the source of much of its sight comedy.
Despite this being much ado about drumming, there were some practical tips, such as how to open the plastic wrap on a Twinkie. For the connoisseurs, a tip of the hat to the situation comedy Seinfeld television show, and his instructional video on how to eat a chocolate bar, the men and a young lass pulled from the audience, showed proper manners by cutting their Twinkies with a knife and fork.
It is possible, and this is supported by the fact Seinfeld was set in New York and Gotham is also home base to the Blue men, that such utensil use just might be the way confections are appropriately handled in the city that never sleeps.
In addition to music, there was also art. The Blue men would catch paint balls thrown to them and, with them in their mouths, paint some very promising abstracts. But what was most sensational was wrapping an audience member in a protective coverall, covering the covering with paint, turning him upside down and swinging him against a canvas. No small feat and no small canvas.
At one point the show stopped immediately when the Blues noticed a late arrival. Alarms went off and a spotlight was used to, well, embarrass the latecomers.
But all of this was nothing compared to the finale. What happened inside the arena could reasonably be a challenge to the annual summer fireworks over the Detroit River. It was non-worldly. It was a party complete with confetti, the audience keeping giant, internally-lighted, helium-tainted balls in the air by hitting them with their hands as they came near, a wild light show, and everyone on their feet dancing to the music.
Not only is this a drumming event to beat all others, it is also a very high technology show, using big screen video that seems to float between scenes, and choreographed lighting.
Keeping all of this under control is a three-man one women crew of light and sound technicians who spend the show behind banks of computers and one master control board. There is no special training for coordinating it all, a member of the crew tells Eyes on Windsor. It was something that was learned on the job that certainly was put to good use. After Windsor the show will be packed up in waiting transport trailers and driven to Kingston.
Since its inaugural show in New York in 1991, the cast and crew have traveled the world. To have it appear in Windsor was not only priceless but also allowed more than a few denizens to mark it off their bucket lists. It is a show to be seen at least once. Four performances were offered locally.
For more information about the Blue Man Group visit https://www.blueman.com.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.
Photos by Dan Boshart
Dan Boshart is a talented photographer from Windsor, Ontario, who is looking forward to spending more time on concert photography when he retires from his full time job in the automotive industry. In addition to shooting bands, he has an interest in travel, architectural and street photography. Some of Dan’s photos can be viewed on Instagram and he can be followed on Twitter or his 27th Floor Photography Facebook Page.