Review by Daz Gale
After a few years and a very different looking world, Liza Pulman returned to the main stage at The Other Palace (or The “Spare” Palace as she calls it) for the first of two shows celebrating her new album The Heart Of It. You may be more familiar with Liza as one third of comedy trio Fascinating Aida but this was something very different. As somebody who was shockingly unfamiliar with Liza, was there enough in this solo show to win my heart?
A singer, actress and comedienne, Liza Pulman is the ultimate show woman. Throughout the performance, she displayed an immeasurable charm that transcended the barriers of the audience. From her warm smile as she looked in the eyes of audience members to the way she left through the audience, ready to greet each and every one, this was a rare show where you could appreciate the talent on stage but still make a 300+ seat venue feel like a cosy living room.
The setlist featured numbers from recent her album of the same name. An easy-listening but diverse setlist featured a smattering of numbers from musical theatre including ‘If I Only Had A Brain’ from The Wizard Of Oz and a stunning version of ‘Ragtime’. One of the things Liza is known for is her show “Liza Pulman Sings Streisand” so of course Barbra got an outing tonight, with stunning versions of ‘Evergreen’ and ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ , while an undeniable highlight was a jaw dropping rendition of the Bond theme ‘Nobody Does It Better’ for a rousing act one finale.
Liza said early on that she enjoys unearthing songs people don’t know as well as maybe they should and bringing attention to those songwriters that perhaps don’t get the acclaim they should. As she meticulously introduced every song, the year it was written and the songwriters, this was a show that was surprisingly educational and left me falling in love with songs I didn’t even know existed two hours previously. With female songwriters at the heart of the show, though Neil Diamond, Randy Newman and Billy Joel were also present, this was a show that unashamedly wore its heart of its sleeve and had the audience in the palm of its hands by doing so.
Liza was joined by a beautiful six-piece band who made the stage burst with glorious sound, bringing the stage and the songs to life. Led by musical director and Liza’s partner-in-crime Joseph Atkins, the orchestrations and interpretations of some of the classic numbers were truly outstanding, matching Liza in every respect with the sheer talent on display.
While she may be known for being in a comedy trio, the comic moments were few and far between in a show that had a more serious yet carefree tone. However, there were moments throughout that caused laughs as you would expect with somebody as naturally funny as she is. From the recurring joke on her own name being mispronounced (which got funnier in each increasingly absurd instance) from the description of herself as a “camp Anthea Turner”, Liza is somebody you can’t help but smile when watching.
Liza Pulmans greatest talent by far, however, is her incredible voice. The most wonderful tone, her voice transcends the ages and has a timeless quality, making you feel you are listening to a singer from a completely different era, while still remaining completely contemporary (as jokes about the current climate testified). The range Liza has took my breath away on multiple occasions with this carefully picked setlist beautifully highlighting the nuance’s and technicalities of her voice.
One undoubted highlight was a sensitive recreation of ‘When She Loved Me’ from Toy Story 2 while the stories she told leading up to each song gave each one more meaning, especially when talking about her childhood and her father who she tragically lost at a young age, leading to a poignant ‘What’ll I Do’ in act 1, and ‘My Father’ in act 2.
Looking around the audience, this appeared to be a show that was enjoyed by people of all ages but especially an older generation who grew up with the songs Liza had carefully picked to perform. The drastically differing ages in the audience showcased the timelessness of Liza’s voice and the songs on hand. This gentle look back through the ages would not have been the kind of thing I would usually go to, but it’s always nice to experience something different, and with this show Liza well and truly won my heart.
This show was called The Heart Of It and it is clear to see why. This is a show full of heart led by a performer whose voice could easily penetrate your own heart. Liza joked at one point the show was designed to break your heart or make your heart sing and she expected everybody to leave the show that night needing to call their therapist. She was half right with that statement, at least. However, no therapist was needed as this show in itself was therapy for the heart.
Liza Pulman – The Heart Of It is at The Other Palace on 30th January. Tickets from theotherpalace.co.uk