When it comes to entertainment, Yasemin Yalçın delivers.
Fans, it seems, are abundant; the crowd that flows into the BKM is a well clad, excitable one – it has prepped itself for a good show. Berna and I find our seats at the back of the concert hall, shadowed by camera equipment which videographers fuss into position; clearly, Yasemin’s concert is no professional triviality.
Onstage are a seven-piece band and two back-up singers. Because the platform is somewhat cosy in size, the musicians span its entire length. Yasemin may be an affable and easy-going personality, but, like any thriving entertainer, she has stringent standards on artistic execution. The audience knows this, and expects no less.
So when Yasemin waltzes in, finally, with a thunder-stealing beam, the crowd roars. She rewards their enthusiasm with vocals that match her presence; both are larger-than-life. That’s right – Yasemin Yalcin has a big, inexhaustible voice. She reaches difficult notes with ease, sustaining an easy familiarity with spectators that undergirds an increasingly celebratory atmosphere; the audience swells quickly into the beat, clapping through much of the repertoire. Now and then someone rises from his seat to give a whooping applause.
Yasemin’s theatre roots serve her well; she exploits the stage space whenever she can, dancing down its length during instrumental solos. It sparks listeners into grooving as well. It is easy to be magnetised by Yasemin; her microphone may be a tad too loud, and her repertoire relates best with Turkish baby-boomers, but these are quickly smothered from being potential kinks by Yasemin’s stage presence and confident vocals. In hearty, jovial banter, the singer admits to being under the weather— but nothing in her performance gives that away. Rather, her determination to sear a solid performance into audience memory more than compensates for such.
Glamour is the word for the night; as if her floor-length, gunmetal gown weren’t dazzling enough, Yasemin emerges in the second half of her concert clad dramatically in black-and-white. Onstage, she fits ‘diva’ to a tee. But she is as gracious as she is polished, thanking her audience effusively every time the band breaks for a song change. Kudos goes to the musicians, who keep the song arrangements crisp and their hooks elegant.
Where Yasemin really shines in are her slower numbers; the fluidity of her vocals carry emotional nuance well. She manages vocal acrobatics impressively, never overdoing them, and always maintaining a simplicity in arrangements that allows for the audience to sing along. Arabesque music here is updated with both panache and verve. As with a collective chant of “Bir daha!” from concert-goers, Yasemin has proven her music chops, reviving Arabesque classics with respectable aplomb.