I went to go and see Liza Minnelli performing at the Royal Albert Hall last night in her new show ‘Liza’s Back’. Stephen had arranged a box for us so Martin, Matthew, Nikki and I duly took our places perched in (on?) the second tier at 8pm and waited for La Minnelli to appear.
The place wasn’t full by any means. But those that were there were mainly poofs or ‘people of a certain age’ (Nikki was the exception!). Graham Norton came on as the warm up act but strangely rather misjudged the spirit of the evening with jokes about rent boys and how he ignores homeless people. Odd.
When Liza did finally appear though she was a spinning dynamo of sequins, hair and eyelashes. People were on their feet and she basked in our adoration for but a brief moment before launching into the first of many all-singing all-dancing numbers. She performed for over an hour virtually non-stop before a 20 minute break. The second half was no less frantic and at times you felt as out of breath as she obviously was.
Her voice (three octave range?) had suffered a little over the years but had lost none of it’s distinctive charm ("I’ll hit a note, boys. You'll find the key sooner or later") or immense power. She wobbled a little at the start of the set but once warmed up she was belting them out thick and fast. All the classics were there; All That Jazz, Maybe This Time, Say Liza (Liza With A “Z”) and New York, New York along with some surprising covers e.g. Mary J. Blige’s Dance With Me which worked really well.
Disappointingly, rumours of her miming were true. She mimed to three tracks (Mein Herr, Money, Money and the afore mentioned Dance With Me) and sang karaoke to Losing My Mind. Shame really but as she was doing rather athletic dance routines at the time perhaps it’s forgivable. Singing a few lines from Somewhere Over The Rainbow however was not. Methinks I detect the influence of new husband and Judy Garland collector David Gest here.
Her outfits were mainly red or black and utterly dazzling. They should have had a radiation warning. There must be a world wide shortage of sequins.
Sadly her dancers were simply not up to the job of keeping up with La Minnelli - looking painfully under rehearsed.
Interestingly she has brought a rapper over from New York to spice up one of her songs. I like the idea that she can reinvent herself to some degree. But she fared best on safer, more familiar ground.
The high point of the night was undoubtedly Cabaret. It had lost none of it’s impact even 30 years down the line. Liza finished with a tribute to the Queen Mother.
The encores went on for 20 minutes as you might expect.