NEWARK, NJ—There are only a few artists that deserve a standing ovation after every song done at one of their performances. For Liza Minnelli, she not only is more than deserving, but quite honestly, it never got old when almost every song she performed received such recognition. Applause was not lacking when she graced the stage with her presence along with a full band and I got the chills realizing I was finally seeing a legend I had only dreamed I would see in-person.
Even being a ways from the stage, when Liza sang and spoke, it felt as though she was performing just for you. The sweetness and childlike nature of her voice was charming and made everything she said magical. You completely understand what a real entertainer is in seeing Liza live. Her eagerness to sing each song was apparent and when she was frustrated in being delayed due to having to adjust the mic stand, she smiled and laughed it off.
She started the night off with “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” done a bit different than what I remember from the movie There’s No Business Like Show Business. Her accompanying musicians included gentlemen who have been with her from basically the beginning of her career. Most noted was pianist Billy Stritch, who not only showed off his vocals for a duet with Liza, but also provided minimal stage tech help with above mentioned mic stands.
The night was filled with songs that are solely hers, standards and a couple from her previous album, Confessions. Her most famous songs like “Cabaret” and “New York, New York” received the most applause and while they are probably the most known, fans weren’t singing along. I hadn’t been to any type of concert where the audience did not loudly sing along and between songs, it was as if you could hear a pin drop as people awaited her next words.
The moment when I felt chills and saw a real somber and passion mood take over Liza was in singing “What Makes A Man” by Charles Aznavour. She had commented on the serious nature of the song and sang with her hands hugging her shoulders and with only a lone spotlight on her. There was a bit of reflecting on her career and the people that she’s worked with. There was still a joy in her voice when she sung the first song that had been written just for her, “Liza With A ‘Z.’”
Between vocals that still hold strength and emotion and the polished to perfection instrumentals, the evening’s performance was just wonderful. Fans scattered throughout the audience called out, “I love you, Liza” any chance they could get during her set and sighed when she bid goodbye to the audience. But she did come back for one last song. She called for the house lights to come on as she sung “I’ll Be Seeing You” and I watched as a few audience members gave her flowers, which she happily accepted.