June 3, 2008
Venue: The Bridgewater Hall
Date Reviewed: 3rd June, 2008
The buzz and excitement that precedes a Liza Minnelli concert cannot be bought. This legendary singer has been wowing audiences in the UK on her current tour and they adore her. As she enters the stage, she receives her first standing ovation. The one thing that strikes you as everyone’s favourite Sally Bowles steps into view is how she good she looks. She has lost weight and looks every inch the glamour-puss.
This old-school singer is such a brilliant storyteller; her “The Man I Love” shows wannabe reality television stars how to belt out a song with emotion. She has ‘lived’ these tunes and gives them the right amount of chutzpah, when required. The loyal and appreciative crowd leap to their feet again, overwhelmed by the presence of such a classy performer.
Sure, the annecdotes are cheesy and about as sincere as Gordon Brown’s “Don’t Panic” speeches but Liza has the ability to make every song a show stopper. The voice, it has to be said is quite raspy and although she cannot quite hit the dizzy heights of Kander and Ebb’s musical arrangements, she gives it a damn good try. And she still wipes the floor with many of today’s singers.
The show has a real Las Vegas feel as Ms Minnelli jokes about her weight loss, her marriages and life in the media spotlight. As self indulgent as all of this clearly is, the audience warm to her, as they have not come here for a slice of reality. They want showbiz, sparkles, glitz and conversation and that’s exactly what they get.
I loved the tale of Liza stepping onto the Broadway stage, unnannounced as Roxie Hart in Chicago due to the indisposition of Gwen Verdon. Imagine the thrilled faces in the audience, as an in her prime, Minnelli starts to dance, I bet the name of everybody’s lips was gonna be Liza.
She knows she is not as young as she used to be and jokes that she now “sits down in the first act” rather than the second. But even in the chair, “Maybe This Time” gives the audience one of those pinch-me moments that you do not often get from a contemporary star. Cue, the next standing ovation!
The second act is a tribute to her god mother, Kay Thompson. Liza’s vocals actually seem stronger here and she exposes the finest pair of pins you have seen, since Tina Turner became your “Private Dancer.” One member of the audience shouts: “You’re gorgeous!” Liza gushes, but this is a star who walks into a room and people stand up and cheer. Yet, she remains a very enigmatic performer, even with the rehearsed lines and sugary showbiz tales.
Her backing singers/dancers deliver superb harmonies and she dances incredibly well alongside them, considering the various hip ops and her age. This is a woman who knows how to entertain via jazz hands, longing stares and pauses a-plenty. But it doesn’t feel dated, it’s almost like you accept you are going back in time to the Golden Age of musicals, the minute you enter the theatre.
I would have personally welcomed Stephen Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” from Follies, later made famous by Liza and her superb collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys. But, when you get “New York, New York” and “Life Is A Cabaret”, who’s complaining.
Liza Minnelli is a seasoned performer who knows exactly what her audience want.
On Monday night, she gave ‘em plenty of schmaltz, high-kicking numbers, with big over-the-top finales and the fans whooped with delight! I now consider myself one of them!