By MARIO TARRADELL Music Critic firstname.lastname@example.org
Liza Minnelli knows how to wring drama out of a nondescript director's chair. Recovering from knee replacement surgery, the 64-year-old Minnelli needed to sit down a few times during her Friday night concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center.
But that didn't stop the singer-actress from turning the high seat into a performance-enhancing prop. As she enunciated the lyrics to "He's Funny That Way," Minnelli brought the standard to a big finish by tilting her head back, crossing one leg diagonally over the other and dropping an arm for supreme effect.
The nearly sold-out, well-dressed adult crowd roared its approval. Minnelli then got up, belted "Cabaret," the old-school show biz anthem that helped her win an Oscar, and enjoyed the first of three standing ovations.
Minnelli was in fine form for the first of a two-night stand backed by six of her own musicians and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The gigs support Confessions, her new studio album of sterling jazz and pop numbers where she's accompanied only by Billy Stritch's piano. She sang five of the Confessions tunes. All were sublime. Yet "He's a Tramp" deserves special mention. She vamped her way through it and even did a little dancing.
The show was a marked improvement from her uneven stint two years ago at Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall. Back then Minnelli was scattered and long-winded. This time she was focused, vivacious for 75 minutes. Her voice was brassy, sassy. The between-song stories were short, sweet and humorous.
That's how we always hope to experience Minnelli. Hers has been a ridiculously tumultuous life. A child of legends Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, Liza has trudged through failed marriages, substance abuse and bad career choices. To see her in relish mode again is an accomplishment and a joy.
She was in total control hitting the notes on "New York, New York," another timeless Minnelli staple, as the stage lights brightened for a dramatic crescendo. That was another deserved standing ovation.