Liza Stepping Out!

Liza Stepping Out!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Liza Minnelli in Brum~Symphony Hall, Birmingham


Liza Minelli
Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
Verdict: 5/5
THERE’s no business like showbusiness – and there’s no star left like Liza Minnelli. The most famous actress-singer of her generation finally came to what Tony Bennett has long declared to be the best venue for acoustics in the world.
And she didn’t let anybody down.
Opened 17 years ago next week by the Queen, Symphony Hall was built for unforgettable nights like this.
If it once seemed as if she’d never perform again, she has put on her tights and dancing shoes to start over. And how.
The showbiz queen blew her audience away last night with a performance of such class, pure emotion and physical exertion that it would have had Newton rewriting his law of gravitation.
It was as if the coming together of so many fans kept 62-year-old Liza afloat on stage throughout her astonishing two-hour show.
Her voice might not be quite what it was, but it has lost none of its emotive power.
Any imperfections caused by sheer breathlessness only added to the thrill of seeing an artist offering the ultimate definition of the adage that ‘the show must go on’.
Backed by her own sensational 12-piece orchestra, I counted some 19 songs.
Yet Liza still found time to tell enough stories about her parents, Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, as well as godmother Kay Thompson and songwriting godfather Ira Gershwin to fill an hour of a TV chat show.
Like her songs, they were all delivered with perfect timing.
And with hand movements that had all the grace and precision of a legendary mime artist like Marcel Marceau.
Liza’s onstage movements might have been refined by a combination of age and two artificial hips, but even when she was 30 she was clever enough not to expect to be able to dance like a 20-year-old.
The second half of the show paid tribute to the Williams Brothers (including Andy) and the creativity of Kay Thompson, the creator of the Eloise stories and whose birth centenary will be in November this year.
But it was hearing timeless classics like Maybe This Time, Cabaret and Theme From New York, New York (which was written for Liza, not Frank Sinatra) which was the dream come true for many.
Liza certainly gave last night’s show her all and, while top priced tickets were £95, anybody with the money would have still have had top value from £500.
Backstage afterwards Liza told me she was thrilled with her night’s work – and her team hoped they could bring her back in the future.
When I suggested her glittering headband had turned her into Wonder Woman, she quipped: "It was keeping the sweat out of my eyes!"
Glasgow on Friday is Liza’s last UK show before she hosts the Tony Awards in the US on June 15 prior to being inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame on June 22.

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