Wednesday, April 08, 2009

On The Topic Of: Liza Fucking Minnelli

Hey boy, girls and combinations thereof...

So, if there was one thing to rocket me back to blogginghood, it would be to remark about what I experienced last night...

Last night, in a move terribly uncharacteristic of me, I paid actual dollars - that's right, no trade nor barter - to take in a live concert. This never happens. Anyone or anything that I see live is either free or discounted well below the price of a pack of cigarettes. But not last night.

Because, y'see, it's not every night that one Miss Liza Minnelli comes rollin' in to town.

I can't say that I was a die hard fan. I've always found her entertaining - particularly in her appearances on Larry King Live (I STRONGLY urge you to watch and savor every second of the clip below... particularly when she receives a call from a musical theater major at approximately 1:03...):



... but all that basically cracked down to was a borderline ironic fascination with her. Certainly not enough for me to plop down top dollar to see her live, right? So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself at the Roy Thomson box office Monday afternoon asking for Liza Minnelli tickets... which is something in itself... buying Liza tickets is pretty much the most declaratively gay thing you can do besides assfucking in public... but anyballs... for some reason, my intuition told me that I wouldn't want to miss this... well...

In a word: EPIC.

I just simply don't know how else to describe it. I was dead-set on describing it as "jazz, spazz and razzmatazz!", but I feel that belittles it. It was just surreal.

To set the scene for you:

We got there at 7:30. I was immediately taken by the interesting cross-section of people that were making up this audience: silver-haired couples who were likely Roy Thomson subscribers and gays, gays, gays. If I was to stretch the description - I'd say literate gays. Gays who had done their cultural homework, as it were. This isn't CeCe Peniston performing to a canned backing track of "Finally" at 2 AM at Fly, afterall - it's motherfucking Liza Minnelli. You gotsta know your shit and spend some coin to see her, baby...

8 PM. Her orchestra - old dudes in tuxes, YES! - trickle on to stage and assume their positions. This shit is actually starting on time - good on ya, Liza. The opening chords of "New York, New York"... 'ba da da-da-da, ba da da-da-da"... and out flounces Liza, dripping in her trademark black sequines. Or rather, out jazz-walks Liza - toes pointed, mime-tipping her fake top-hat - in the same manner I imagine she transports herself anywhere. Everyone lost their shit. LOST it. The first of about 15 standing O's of the evening greets her. She sings some song called "Teach Me" or something... it really doesn't matter. People are still losing their shit. She finishes the song and people lose it some more. She's apparently overwhelmed, and responds - AND I QUOTE - "Holy Toledo! What a reception!"... That's right - we're not 5 minutes into this, and we've already gotten a "Holy Toledo!". AMAZING!

The rest of it is a glittery haze... I can distinctly remember her performing a song called "If" that I saw her perform on her episode of Inside The Actors Studio. It's a very patter-y, wordy song about a woman who kills her cheatin' boyfriend... like about 100 words per second... you couldn't understand a fucking word she was saying with her recently acquired speech impediment - BUT IT DIDN'T FUCKING MATTER!!! It's Liza!!!

She's got stage patter down to a science... Britney Spears could really take a page from her book... Whereas at a Britney concert, the most audience interaction you could hope for is her exclaiming "My pussy is hangin' out!", Liza fucking takes you there... she is just consummately engaging - I was actually hoping for her to talk more than sing, actually - and hilariously self-deprecating... she made light of all her failed marriages, her various addictions past and present, and I think at one point she made reference to vaginal dryness... but maybe I was just hearing what I wanted to hear. It's possible.

She would do shit that NOBODY else could get away with... NOBODY... you would NOT take someone else seriously if they did the shit that she did. She recounted the famous story about how she subbed in for an ailing Gwen Verdon in the original production of Chicago - long story short: Gwen Verdon, original "Roxie Hart" and Bob Fosse's muse, accidentally swallowed a feather off one of her boas, it got wrapped around her vocal chord, needed surgery, would be out of the show, since Chicago wasn't a runaway hit they needed to have their stars in it to keep it open and this was back in the bad ol' days when musicals didn't play for years and have different cast members coming in and out through a revolving door, Liza did it completely unpublicized, and this was back before the internet when shit like that could actually be kept to mythical word-of-mouth and it was a big shit deal. There ya go - and she went from telling that story, to explaining the plot of Chicago, DIRECTLY into the character of Roxie Hart and sang the fuck out of "I Am My Own Best Friend"... FUCKING NUTS!!!

Her songs from Cabaret were personal favorites of mine... I'd actually wager to say that "Maybe This Time" was the highlight of the night for me, at least musically, anyway... Because number A.) It's a gorgeous fucking song and letter B.) there is a SEARING truth to that song when she sings it... this bitch is maybe the unluckiest bitch in the history of unlucky bitches when it comes to love... a chronic, genetically-predisposed fag-hag who loves fast and hard, when she unleashed her weathered, wobbly vocal chords on the closing refrain of that song with a mile-wide smile filled with the promise of someone just starting life, you fucking BELIEVED that even though she's 62-years-old and part-robot, HE - IS - STILL - OUT -  THERE... and y'know what? Maybe this time, she'll win... maybe... it was magnificent. 

Her performance - and first-act closer - of "Cabaret" was pretty fucking awesome, too. I counted three kick-ball-change's... and one of her numerous heavy-lidded winks to her personal life during the lyric "The day she died the neighbor's came to snicker / Well that's what comes from too much pills and liquor..." [long pause and knowing glance to all five balconies as if to say "shit, girrrl, I used to get fucked up whaaaaat!"... 

After an all-too brief intermission - in which many an instance of awkward eye-contact with older professional gays were made - we were eagerly planted back in our seats to witness the re-entry of Mz. Minnelli... and oh, wouldn't you know it, there was a wardrobe change. This time bitch is swathed in CHOCOLATE sequins... her top? A PONCHO/CAPE. Yes. A sequined poncho. An evening poncho, as it were. Priceless. 

More priceless? Her first fucking song of the second act is "Liza With A 'Z'"! CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE? If you are sitting there being like "So, you're telling me that this was just showstopper after showstopper? Hit after hit after hit? Never a dull moment?" - yes. Yes. Yes, that is what I'm telling you. It was out of fucking control. She even took requests, apparently. She sang a song, upon request, called "Mammy". It was about a mammy and one's fondness for said mammy. Mammy's really need to come back, methinks... But fuck me, I had no idea she was taking requests, or else surely I would have pressed for a reprise of this number:

 

... BAD. So yeah. More song, dance, and analogical magic and all of a sudden it's 10 PM. Holy fuck - you could have fooled me. It had ONLY been 2 hours at this point? It felt like it was about 1 AM... in the best possible "my, how time flies!" sense... and at this point, if you are reading this and have even a SLIGHT inclination of rue and remorse that you did not go to see this concert, this bit of information is going to jerk the last nerve left restraining your finger from pulling the trigger attached to the pistol pointed at your head... 

Her closing number: ... single spotlight, backlighting her silhouette... her back is to us, one hand on hip, her other arm outstretched... snapping - SNAPPING. "New York, New York" ensues. 

I can honestly say that watching Liza motherfucking Minnelli perform "New York, New York" live will go down in history as one of the most memorable moments of my life. As will anyone else who was there. Wow. 

And it's not even over yet. She came back for an encore, feigning reluctance. That was actually pretty funny... watching her go through the motions of "oh my! What ever would I sing?!" - She and her pianist/right-hand man, the incomparable Billy Stritch (questionaly related to the prized Elaine), parked it at the piano for "Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye". We cried a little.

It didn't stop there. Everyone was STILL going ape shit, so Liza came BACK OUT. This time, she stripped off her sequined poncho and a significant portion of her hair-piece - I swear to fuck she was wearing an XL "Ghostbusters" T-Shirt that one might wear as their jammy's, but I'm told it was an Ed Hardy T, the same one she wore on an episode of Arrested Development - and sang a song of longing, a cappella. 

And that is what you missed.

Allow me to restate that I was never a die-hard fan of Liza. I went to this concert merely on a lark - my intuition told me "get it while it's still here because you'll regret it if you don't". And holy fuck - best decision I ever made.

I actually think it'd be an understatement to say that Liza is a dying breed... I think she's the last of her kind. The shit that I witnessed last night isn't cyclical; try as they might, even the most promising performers of my generation are NEVER going to be able to do what that bitch can do and NEVER have what that bitch has... this was a master class in pure, unadulterated charisma. It was starkly clear that performing was this woman's lifeblood. And that was inspiring.

In short: Best. Show. EVER!

Until... of course... 

Yes.

Sorry. I'm back to whoring. Click on it for all its hi-res glory... 

But this show is going to be absolutely BONKERS - look at that lineup!!!

Anyballs... that's what I have to say about that... 

I'm going to attempt an America's Next Top Model: Cycle 30 dopplegang-bang tomorrow... 

--- Aj

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