Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Liza Minnelli concert filled with musical memories and magic moments
There's a reason many people never miss an opportunity to see Liza Minnelli perform in concert.
This is one talented lady with a powerful voice that never disappoints.
Sure, she might sit comfortably planted in a tall canvas "director's chair," during much of her performances, as of late.
But as she explains to her audiences, not only has she had her hips replaced, but most recently, also a knee.
These are just the unavoidable events that go along with a dancer's career.
Despite what she described as "moments of major ouch" following her knee procedure, Liza still managed to dance a few steps and wildly entertain an overjoyed audience of nearly 3,800 at The Chicago Theatre Sunday. It was a one-night exclusive concert that was pure magic delivered from among some of the most legendary pipes in show biz.
Early in her concert, she said she felt "at home" at the legendary theater, since it was where her father, film director Vincent Minnelli had one of his first jobs. Born and raised in Chicago, after high school, he worked briefly as a window designer at Marshall Field's department store before he was hired to design sets and costumes for The Chicago Theatre.
As for Liza's Sunday concert on the historic stage, as touted early on by the show's producer Charlie Blum, there were no back-up dancers or singers.
The spotlight was solely on Liza, with her talented accompanist Billy Stritch at her side on piano and backed by a drummer, a few horns and a bass player.
During her 90-minute show, with one short intermission, she sported only two basic black costume changes, one sparkling for the first half of the show and later, the other was adorned with cascading ruffles and offset by a large, shining pendant necklace.
The focus of the evening wasn't about fashion, but about the musical moments of her life.
Some of the selections she shared were numbers from her upcoming album "Confessions" which will be released in September and features a tribute to the late, great singer Kay Thompson, her godmother and dear friend to her mother Judy Garland.
She explained she recorded much of the album from her bedroom, with Stritch accompanying her on keyboard, while she was on the mend from her knee replacement surgery in January.
Her Chicago performance included American standards, such as fun songs by Judy Holliday and her late husband, Broadway's Peter Allen, the latter, she explained, being one of her best friends despite their divorce and someone she loved "almost daily to talk on the telephone with."
But the biggest applause came following her trademark powerhouse numbers like "Cabaret," which closed the first half of her concert and "New York, New York," which provided the grand finale. And, there were a few surprises in between, like her rendition of Peggy Lee's "He's a Tramp."
But above all, Liza has a contagious energy and connection to her audience. It's the reason she received so many standing ovations during the show.
As for any slip-ups, there were a few here and there, with a lyric slightly reversed or some banter that seemed astray.
But like a bat of Liza's famous eyelashes, any minor blinks were seamlessly smoothed over with this entertainer's smile, charm and power to please.