My review of Miss Minnelli's show at Powell Hall, Saint Louis, MO June 5th.by Anthony Martucci
It is now 6:19 AM, Sunday morning, soon I will have to go back home. The feeling/adapting of being back in reality is still settiling upon me, though last night was reality. I saw my singer, the great Miss Liza Minnelli from my front row seat. It was like a dream but still real at the same time. The best word for the concert experience is magical, it really was magical. To describe Liza the way Fred Ebb once did I think she is just the lovin' end and I am grateful that there is Liza Minnelli to enetertain us. Sitting in the little park area near the concert hall one hour before show time I was smoking a cigarette, dressed up in my suit and tie, and I had a feeling of well-being because I felt I would finally see what I had waited four months to see. I would see Miss Minnelli perform live, and I did. All of this time I have admired her from a distance, seen her in concert videos, in films, and listened to her recordings. This was entirely different and words cannot tr uly capture what it meant to me. It was a feeling, and I still feel like I am floating on air. Waiting in front of the stage for my lady to appear, I knew it was close to show time when all of the orchestra made it to the stage and Liza's longtime piano player Mr. Billy Stritch was seated and playing some notes. After a minute or two of piano, there she was. She came out with her arm around the conductor, a short, dark haired, elderly woman, who just happend to be my favorite woman on the planet. Liza was wearing slim black slacks, low heeled, close toe, black shoes, and a grayish/blackish blouse. She changed her blouse three times during the evening. One was a sparkling black blouse, the other a sparkling purple blouse, both over one shoulder, but the first blouse was over both shoulders. She wore the same black slacks and shoes throughout the evening. Liza looked very short compared to the towering conductor. She took a position close to the piano and Billy Stritch and wen t into the first number, "The Sweetest Sounds", at the part of the song where she sings of changing her style to fit Carnegie Hall from act 2 of the Carnegie Hall 1987 album, she sang instead of Powell Hall, to fit the venue, she sang "Toot, toot, Tootsie", "Buckle down Winsocki", and "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in that order as on the Carnegie Hall album. As "Alexander's Ragtime Band" started Liza went off stage to change blouses and was slightly delayed in coming back. The song played for about two minutes before she came back. Liza was in good singing voice but was occaisionally drowned out as the orchestra would play louder parts of the songs. Throughout all of this I was in awe, i just kept looking at her, admiring her. It was clear that Miss Minnelli was having trouble with her knees. She told us so, she said "I always tell you the truth", as I have heard her say in recordings of other shows, and she proceeded to tell us that she has two false knees, false hips, and a shoulder that cracks when she moves it, oh dear Liza! I was a bit worried for her because of her legs but she pulled off the show fine, sitting in a chair for many of the numbers, smiling, looking around the auditorium at all the faces, occaisonally at me. In the middle of these laid back romantic ballads, she would occaisonally look at me and I would return her look, smiling and captivated as she would sing these words of love. It was easy for me to see during these times of making eye contact with her during the show, that she was really trying to convey something to me and everyone listening to her. Music is made of feelings and the songs have messages. Good singers like Liza are interpreters and conveyers of messages, stories, feelings. This is what she was showing us, feeling, stories, and messages. After telling us about her knee surgery, which she said she had to have because of extensive dance rehersals for t he "Sex and the City 2" numbers, she went into a fitting number "Why don't they mention the pain?" She did a Kay Thompson number "I must have that man", also a song from one of Vincente Minnelli's movies called "Confession". I believe these two might be on the upcoming "Confessions" album. She told us that "Confessions" is an album that she made while she could not walk after her knee replacement surgery earlier in the year. Other numbers from "Confessions" she did were "He's a tramp", "You fascinate me so", and a real treat as well was "Close your eyes" from "Gently" but which I understand is to be on "Confessions" as well. Also wonderful live was "The nearness of you", during the middle of this number Liza grabbed a pair of binoculars and looked around at the audience through them. The symbolism of this was lost on me at the time, but now I real ize that she was making us, the audience nearer for the effect of "The nearness of you", makes sense right? The very superb Liza classic "Let yourself go" was performed. She really slowed that one down and sang each syllable out. A number she only sang halfway through was "He's funny that way", she stopped and said that the song was just too sad for her to finsh it, nobody seemed to mind, the audience laughed about this, as did Liza, oh well mabey next time. She did the classic "Mabey this time" which prompted a much deserved standing ovation. For several of the songs I cannot remember if they were performed during act 1 or act 2 of the show as there was a 20 minute intermission. The songs were all performed though. "Teach me tonight" was performed during act 1 and "Cabaret" was the closing song of act 1. "But the world goes round" was the opening number of act 2. "But the world goes round" is on e of my favorite Liza tunes and it was worth the 22 hour trip by bus to Saint Louis from Houston, Texas for that song alone, as could be said for all the numbers. Early in the second act of the show Mr. Billy Stritch performed a solo number called "No moon at all". I felt that while Billy's song was good I was anxious for it to end so that Liza would come back and sing some more, she came back onstage clapping as "No moon at all" was ending, then as everyone was clapping for him he said "hey everyone Liza Minnelli is onstage" and then we all clapped for her. She sang the opening lines of "You can have him I don't want him" then stopped because it was the wrong song. A couple of times she did start sing the wrong song and then stopped and changed songs, which I attribute to old age more then anything. I would say that Liza in her old age has gotten funnyer onstage and more charming, and in a way sings better even, her vocals are deeper these days in a sultry way. People during the show would shout to Liza that they love her at which Liza May would say that she loved us as well, just as we all have Liza, she has all of us. One lady shouted "how are you Liza?", at which point Liza said she was fine, then turning away from the crowd, but still talking into the microphone, she said in a low voice that probably not everyone caught but I heard it being so close and I completely relate to it, she said "That means I'm fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional", that can be sort of what fine is an acronym for. It's a reminder that Liza has problems like we all do. "New York, New York" was the last number before the encore number. She did twice the part of "New York, New York" where she leans down and circles her arm around and sings "my little town blues are melting away". After this number ended she was in conference a short while with Billy and the conductor an d they decided to launch into "my little town blues are melting away" a third time complete with Liza circling her arm again and singing the lines with all that she had. By this time everyone was on there feet cheering loudly. To say that this concert was special would be an understatement, it was perhaps the greatest two hours of my life. There was a superb encore song that like many of the songs that night I had never heard Liza sing before called "All the lives of me". She introduced this is having been written by her dear friend Mr. Peter Allen. Leaving now for the daylong trip back to Houston, Texas it feels bittersweet. Sweet because of the experience of seeing my lady live, and a bit sad at leaving, the memory is with me though, Farewell saint Louis and PS.no more long greyhound trips after this one.