Cabaret Songs with Ute Lemper
Monday, 3 August 2009 at 8:00pm • Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts

Performers Ute Lemper, vocals

Reviewer Ed Farolan

What a classy performer! What else can you expect? You have a European living in New York -- that's class and culture all combined to create an artist like Ute Lemper.

She's got style, in the strict sense of the word; she's not a run-of-the-mill impersonator. When she performs a pop song like "Cabaret", she transforms it into her own. She owns the song in her own individual and creative fashion.

She sang most of the songs listed in the programme except the ever-popular "Falling in Love" popularized by Marlene Dietrich in the film Blue Angel and also La vie en rose. It's possible that she might have sung these songs, but the downside of being creative and putting your style into a song is that you might end up digressing so much that the song becomes unrecognizable.

Anoher flaw in the two-hour programme was why there was no intermission. After an hour, an audience starts getting restless, no matter how good the performer is.

I also wished that she had sung more songs in English. A lot of her songs were in German and French, and although she did English versions of her German songs, she assumed that everyone here in Vancouver spoke French and didn't do any translations of these songs. She probably thought Vancouver was like Montreal.

But other than these, I enjoyed her storytelling, her rapport with the audience, her jokes, all faithful to the cabaret approach.

From the technical standpoint, the lights were excellent but the sound was a bit too loud. The sound technician should have brought the volume lower. When Lemper hit those high notes, I found the volume quite deafening.

The musicians were excellent: Werner Van Glerig on the piano; Don Falzone, bass; Eric Halverson, drums; and Hector Castro, bandoneon. I could tell that they vibed well with Lemper.

I enjoyed the "Mack the Knife" medley from Brecht/Weill's Three Penny Opera. and also the "Cabaret" and "All That Jazz" (from the musical Chicago) medley. The audience got a laugh when Lemper took a snipe at Brecht referring to him as "the richest Marxist" after he made a killing with his "opera".

I didn't quite enjoy Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam" and also the Yiddish medley which sounded like Fiddler on the Roof tunes. But all in all, it was a successful opening night. There's really nothing perfect in any performance. There's always something to gripe about, and this is purely subjective, as all reviews and critiques are subjective..

© 2009 Ed Farolan