Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Liz Smith: Liza Minnelli's Intimate 'Confessions'
The Women on the Web
Liza Minnelli’s new CD is titled "Confessions," and the fabled star appeared at NYC’s Gramercy Hotel the other night to croon a few numbers from the album. (This was another installment of the Rose Bar Sessions, featuring exclusive performances for a hand-picked crowd.)
As dazzling and exciting as Liza is when she’s standing onstage at the Palace, or some other big theater – revving up her engine, dancing, finger-snapping, hitting those big notes – a tiny force of nature, a whirl of sequins – she is perhaps more impressive when she cozies up to the microphone and draws you in.
Sandra Bernhard, John Kander, Mary Louise Parker, Alan Cumming, Cynthia McFadden and about one hundred other intimate friends waited patiently for Liza to appear. She was only a little late – the prerogative of all great stars. Suddenly, with no fuss, she was there, taking the small stage briskly, giving no sign of her recent knee surgeries. She wore a simple black pants outfit – chic, with not a sequin to be seen. She embraced her pianist, Billy Stritch, exclaimed she was "nervous" and then got right down to the business of wrapping her arms around her audience.
Liza sang five numbers, including "I Must Have That Man" and "You Fascinate Me So." Her voice was warm, husky and rich, and she used her great gift of storytelling through song. She made every lyric count, and conveyed that in these moments, she believes with all her heart what she is singing.
When she finished with an exquisite "On a Night Such as This," there was a simple good-bye and she was off. Applause was heartfelt, and to a man and woman, everybody was more than satisfied. I have to admit it was something of a relief to see Liza in this kind of setting. No (annoying to me) repeated shouts of "Liza, we love you!" No worrying if she is going to hit that impossible note or execute that intricate dance step. She didn’t have to project her voice and her personality to the back of the theater. At the Gramercy, everything that is unique and beloved about Liza was close enough to touch.
I know that big venues are where the big money is, but a few more of these intimate cabaret-style appearances wouldn’t break the bank.
Liza as chanteuse …why not?