Friday, March 15, 2013

Traveling With Patti (Music Review: Patti Lupone, Far Away Places, Live At 54 Below)

I've traveled with Patti Lupone. Like, literally. Well, technically I did. My friends and I were on a cruise to the Mediterranean and The Holy land and she was the main entertainer for the cruise and we kept on bumping into her in the ship. So yes, I felt like I traveled with her. The better because the theme of her show is wanderlust, titled "Far Away Places." This is the opening show at the new cabaret space 54 Below, the basement section of the famed old discotheque. It's a great show, a somewhat different show for her, as she is not singng songs she has sung in shows she has appeared at. I have seen her numerous times live, and that has been, more often than not, the theme of her shows. The show, conceived with her friend Scott Wittman, is perfectly conceived. It's daring, it's familiar, it's very Lupone. There's a wonderful variety in styles: a jazzy "Travelin' Light," a blues-tinged "I Cover The Waterfront," a comic "Come To The Supermarket In Old Peking." She even dares disco, paying tribute to her venue. And who else but Patti Lupone would sing multiple Kurt Weill songs ('Bilbao Song,' "Pirate Jenny,' 'September Song') I mean, does anyone still sing weill? She represents Sondheim in "By The Sea" (what, no Lloyd Webber? Just kidding, Patti) and her "Hymn To Love" evokes and respects Piaf at the same time. Her voice is as strong with age, but the intimacy of this do highlight some pitch problems and for the uninitiated, the vibrato could be overwhelming. But that's Patti, and there's enough of her big personality to overcome those. And that big personality shines in the patter: it is as entertaining as the show. ('I would have been a great stewardess. Can you imagine? Turn off the fuckign phone! How Dare You !')  This is a great souvenir of the show for those, like myself, that didn't see it. It's a great Patti Lupone experience if you haven't been Luponized yet. (I still think her RCA two disc album is her best recording, but that's me ) It's a great way to roam, traveling with LuPone.

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