by Joanna Orland
It’s Liza with a “Z”, not Lisa with an “S” cuz Lisa with an “S” goes “ssss”. One of the many ingenious songs sung by the great Liza Minnelli at her Picnic in the Park gig at Kenwood House. What a fab idea to have deck chairs sprawled out, picnics in the park, and legendary songstresses charming and serenading the mixed audience that consisted of everyone from young children (they LOVED Liza), older fans that must have followed her the first time round, young trendy hipster fans (including us.. um.. we’re so cool), and modern pop sensation Patrick Wolf who we spotted in the audience sitting in our row AND visiting his boyfriend at the merch stand. Liza has MASS appeal.
To be honest, we kind of expected a train wreck. Liza has not been without her troubles over her long-spanning career. She has pulled herself together, powered on through, overcome the drama to shine on as a true legend, a real charmer, and an old pro. She knew exactly how to work the audience with her enthralling life stories, coughing fit due to “hayfever / allergies”, and of course JAZZ HANDS! This woman is all class.
She sang many of the old hits including Liza with a Z, Life is a Cabaret and of course New York, New York which she explained Sinatra covered from her. This woman has lived through it all. She would ring up Bobby (Bob Fosse) for work, lend Sinatra songs, call icon Judy Garland “mum” and even call Michael Jackson a close friend. There are few of her kind left in this world.
Coming out on stage with a black sequins number, as I knew she would, Liza had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. When the set was over, the audience demanded an encore with such enthusiasm, you could easily forget this was an English music crowd, usually known for their lacklustre appreciation at gigs. Liza worked it. If you are fortunate enough to see Liza in this lifetime, you must. Life is a cabaret my friend. Life is a cabaret.