Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Another review of Liza at Wente Vineyards, June 24th by Jennifer Abraham.
Had I left a little earlier, I could have seen Liza perform her soundcheck, but got caught up in traffic and missed it. (I know someone who got there early enough to see it though and thought she was amazing!) I got there a little bit later, in time for dinner (we had restaurant seating) which was...interesting, to say the least. (Unless you have a taste for them, I wouldn't recommend their "pea shooters". I think several tables around ours got an interesting pre-show laugh at watching me try to gag that thing down and make every weird face in the book.) I only mention this part because our table was directly across from the building Liza was using as her backstage area. No, I didn't end up getting back there, but I sur e did try! And while we were eating, I saw several familiar faces of Team Liza milling in and out of there, which was exciting. This was the first time I took my dad with me to a Liza show, so he pretty much just thought I was nuts for being able to rattle off the names of each of these people like it was nothing. He just doesn't understand the Liza fandom at all. ;) He's more used to rock concerts - it was more his speed when I was still employed by Pete Townshend and could get him back to meet all that crew. So I figured I'd take him along to show him what a classy show is like, even if just once. :)
I must re-iterate what's already been said about the weather there...even before it got dark out, it was downright COLD, and only got worse as the night progressed. (It dipped down to about 50 degrees out and started raining not very long after the end of the show - had the intermission been held, Liza would've gotten rained on.) Genius me wore a sleeveless dress and several staff members in charge of the place even came up to me and asked a few times if I was "going to be okay" like that, haha. Amazing how quickly I completely forgot about the cold once Liza May hit the stage though ;)
We had third row, directly center seats. Guess who I had the pleasure of sitting directly behind? A one mr. Ron Lewis! And anyone who's ever seen Liza perform in front of him knows that her eyes stay fairly glued to him, so it felt like she was staring at me the whole night since I was right there behind him :) (I got the back of his head in a couple of pictures I snuck.) I was amazed at JUST how close the stage was - my pictures to NOT do it justice, they make it look further away than it was. It felt like you could practically reach out and touch her! And even the seats off in the back weren't very far away; it was a VERY intimate setting. I was already practically hyperventilating before she even took the stage. (And this comes from the gi rl who traveled across the country to see her 10 times at the Palace!) I've never been this "up close and personal" at any other show of hers I've ever been to; even at the Palace when I had second row seats. But anyway, Liza took the stage in her black velvet pants, what looked to be the same boots from the Palace show tucked up under said pants, and her black sparkly off the shoulder top that looks SO much better in person than it ever does in photos. Let me tell you... She definitely seems to have taken off more weight since the knee surgery; she is TINY now! (I think her legs may very well be smaller around than mine now, and that's saying something, since I'm only like 85 pounds.) She opened with "Teach Me Tonight", which gave me instant giddy flashbacks to the Palace tour. I don't care if anyone else thought she sounded rough during the first few songs, I thought she sounded AMAZING. The little 'scat' part in the middle of the song, she changed up a little from how she normally performs it, but I still liked it. :) In between the first and second songs, she asked the audience if they were cold, before making a comment about how "damn" cold the weather is (the only time she swore all night...darn, I'd had my fingers crossed for another f-bomb after the St Louis show ;) Sorry, it just amuses me to hear her say it, it somehow sounds cute when she does it!). She asked for her jacket from one of her assistants down in the front row, which was, of course, another Ed Hardy one. But a different one I haven't seen before, so at least she's changing it up a little. Liza had Billy Stritch help her put it on, and he playfully yanked the hood up over her head (to which someone in the audience jokingly shouted "Don't touch the hair!", which made Liza smile and she took it back down and pretended to preen her hair a little.) She told us that no matter what, the show must go on, as they say! She carried on like a trooper, and I love her for it. Sh e also went and retrieved her director's chair for the first time at this point. I think the cold was bothering her knee, she kept holding at it but trying not to be obvious about it. My mother had a lot of knee problems, so I guess I'm just really subconsciously in-tune to picking up on that and noticing when it's bothering someone. The next song she did was one of the new ones, I think. I believe it was "On Such A Night As This". I was very impressed that there's a mention of Judy Garland in the song and I hope that line is in the album version :) I'd never heard this song before so the Judy mention caught me offguard and made me squeal a little. (Liza just nodded to me after I did.) She then went straight into "He's Funny That Way" without much seque into it. If you're comparing this to the other shows she's done this tour already, you'll notice that she's already dropped a couple of songs from the setlist thanks to the cold. She also didn't spend nearly as long telling h er usual stories in between songs like she usually does. Just figures, the ONE day last week it wasn't still scorching hot out (or even still warm at that hour) had to be Liza's day. But anyhow, from there, she talked about her knee surgery, which led into "Why Don't They Mention The Pain?". I was a little disappointed when I got home and saw that this song is NOT on the new album; I think it was my favorite of the new material she's doing! (And if anyone might be able to turn up a recording of her doing that song for me, I may just love you for forever.) Seriously, it's SO catchy! And she did indeed try to dance in that chair during this song. After that, she told us a bit about her new album, how it's composed of songs she's basically known her whole life, then went into "I Can't Give You Anything But Love". She then told us about how the whole album was recorded while she was still recovering from her knee surgery, so instead of "being able to sing loud and brassy, like I usually do", she can't do that lying down, so she had to do quiet songs. This of course led to an "...in bed" comment as one would expect (one never gets too old for those jokes!) to which someone shouted "ATTA BOY, BILLY!" You should have seen him blush. From here, she performed "I Hadn't Anyone Til You", followed by "Cabaret", which seemed almost odd that it was so early on in the show (but made sense once I thought about it later and realized so many songs had been dropped from the setlist) - it was still light out when she did that! She also got up from her chair for this number. I will tell you something though; seeing her perform "Cabaret" against a sunset sky is quite possibly one of the most incredible things I have EVER seen in my life, and probably will never be so lucky as to see again, so it's a memory I will hold to and cherish my whole life. It was truly magical, I don't even know how to put it into words beyond that. She then performed "But The World Goes Rou nd", which completed the segue between night and day, light and dark, but just sounded SO incredible. I couldn't believe THAT much sound could come out of a 6 piece band and still sound like a whole orchestra. I was SO beyond excited to hear this one, you have no idea! I think it was after this song that I finally waited for a quiet moment to yell my usual "I love you, Liza!!" and got back an "Oh honey, I love you too!" Which sparked off about 10 other people trying to say it, but the most they got was her saying "Where does that keep coming from?" (I feel special ^_^) Anyway, after this, I should've started writing down which songs she was doing. I THINK after that she did "Confession", which although wasn't the first time I've ever heard it, it was the first time I've heard her do it in person, so that was awesome. It sounded MUCH better than the performance she gave of it at the PFLAG gala, she was really on her game! After that, "You Fascinate Me So", "Moments Like This", I think she did "This Heart of Mine", commented on the cold again, and I couldn't help but noticing how very professional she was in not being the LEAST bit distracted by the moths that kept fluttering through the stagelights around her face a few times (whereas all I was doing was sitting in the audience and couldn't help but be distracted by them...but then again, I should be probably be nicknamed "Princess ADD" or something, haha) but she didn't so much as swat them away or anything. I can't say as much for the rest of the guys in her band - I don't know the names of all the horns section but one of them, I don't know, this particular moth seemed to like messing with and he kept trying to twitch his face to get it off him and to inconspicuously blow it off his face. But I always notice all the tiniest things that most people don't, so I couldn't help but notice this going on in the back while Liza was totally oblivious to this poor guy's plight with the moth. She t hen asked if we remembered that old Disney movie "Lady and the Tramp", which, of course, everybody does, and launched into "He's A Tramp". (I knew there was a reason that movie was always one of my favorite Disney films!) It seemed odd at first she'd randomly do a song from a Disney film until I made the connection that wait, it's a movie about dogs...of course she's seen it. :) Then she did "Maybe This Time", which is the point where she decided it was really too cold and put the hood up on her jacket. If this were anybody else, it would've looked weird, but she can pull it off. I thought it was adorable on her :) Plus with the short hair, I don't blame her at all. When your neck gets cold, you tend to feel cold all over. So she put it up and sang the song in her chair before getting up to sing "New York, New York" - hoodie still up. The performance was amazing, don't get me wrong, but something just seemed almost comical for some reason about her doing that particular trad emark song.......with a hoodie on. Don't ask, I'm a strange little person. It didn't take anything away from it, it juse amused me that it seemed so out of place. But it was at this point that I realized that WAIT, it hasn't even been two hours, the show can't be over yet, can it?? (Her concerts always fly by way too fast, but this one especially. Then I figured out why when I looked at the setlists of the other stops.) She ended the show with telling us about her first husband, Peter Allen, and how she'd been married at 18 (I thought she was 19 when she married him, but I guess I could be wrong) and ended the show with "The Lives of Me". This too, I can't tell you how excited I was to hear. Through Liza, I discovered Peter Allen's music and found that I really, really like his work too. So to hear her singing his song was really exciting for me :)
I only wish the show had been longer, but I'd just like to say that the naysayers really had no leg to stand on here - sh e was incredible that night, I don't know what they were watching, but Liza gave it her absolute all, and I thought she was marvelous.