Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Friday, July 15, 2011

Exclusive: Liza Minnelli looks forward to Las Vegas concerts in the fall
By Robin Leach (contact)

Thursday, July 14, 2011
3:11 p.m.

Superstar entertainer Liza Minnelli is looking forward to her Las Vegas concerts Liza With a Z this autumn and promoting her new album Confessions that she recorded and rehearsed while bed-ridden during a six-week recuperation from knee-replacement surgery.
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Liza Minnelli in Perugia, Italy

Ken Henderson Photo Credit

Liza told me that she is now fully healed and in fine form with a stronger-than-ever voice. She proved that and more last night at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy, near where I am on my annual vacation.

Liza, a longtime friend, invited me -- along with husband-and-wife actors Michael Tucker and wife Jill Eikenberry, who also are on vacation here (remember them in L.A. Law?) -- backstage after the performance. We, along with 10,000 Italian and British fans, agreed that she’d made magic once again.

It was a full-moon evening, and Liza kept cool under the bright spotlights of the open-air theater stage, with the temperature still not dropping much from the 99 degrees of sunshine.

The Umbria Jazz Festival is considered Italy’s premiere summer musical festival, with Carlos Santana and wife Cindy the night before, Sergio Mendez tonight, Prince tomorrow and B.B. King, who often plays his blues and jazz club at the Mirage, rounding out the star attractions.

Liza told me she heads to Switzerland and Monte Carlo to wrap up her European tour before heading home to New York and preparing for her Las Vegas Hilton shows in October.

She was completely comfortable with the audience, who were on their feet with appropriate bravos several times during her 90-minute-plus performance, especially after “Cabaret,” “Maybe This Time” and her anthem “New York, New York.” She even joked about her busted marriages!

At one point, she pulled a director’s chair to stage center to sit down to sing, explaining the knee surgery. At another point, she took off her ankle boots and sat down. She also sang atop arranger-pianist Billy Stritch’s stool.

The audience didn’t want her to leave, giving her three curtain calls until she finally ran out of band rehearsed material to sing, so she just sang a capella under a sole spotlight. To say the performance under a full moon was spellbinding is an understatement. This was Excellent Entertainment with a capital E!

The highlight, though, was when she’d almost reached the end of the show: One minute into “New York, New York,” her voice cracked, and she stopped the band! She told everybody she wanted to start it again to do it right. Two sips of honey tea, and she kept her promise, delivering it at full, faultless energy.

“That’s how we do it,” she joked. “I wanted you to get it at its best.” The entire arena erupted in applause and cheers.

Billy told me afterward: “Now you don’t see that anymore today. That’s old school entertainment. I don’t know anybody who would feel so comfortable and confident to do that.”

Liza, the daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, was last in Italy in 2008. She told me: “I’d always wanted to play the Umbria Jazz Festival as a tribute to my father. This is something very special, and to hear Italians applauding for the great music and songs of Broadway made me feel a lot of love here tonight.

“I think this band and I have been together now for 20 years. We love what we do together. We’re all looking forward to returning home to Vegas this fall, and we hope you all love the new songs on the Confessions album.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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Liza Minnelli and Robin Leach in Perugia, Italy, on July 13, 2011.

Liza told me that she is now fully healed and in fine form with a stronger-than-ever voice. She proved that and more last night at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy, near where I am on my annual vacation.

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