Mike Atkinson

Lorna Luft – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Monday February 11

Posted in gigs, Nottingham Post, Royal Concert Hall by Mike A on February 11, 2008

Lorna Luft signs Mike's CD

For Lorna Luft, a show business veteran of over thirty-five years’ standing, Songs My Mother Taught Me – a two hour tribute to her mother Judy Garland – represents both a reconciliation and a celebration. Having spent years trying to outrun the shadow cast by Garland’s legendary status, Luft has reached a point in her life where she can publicly express her gratitude, and salute her late mother’s remarkable genius.

Backed by a ten piece orchestra, with British husband Colin Freeman directing the music, Lorna took us on a journey of fond remembrance. The show started with Garland serenading her young daughter on the screen, before a beaming, effusive Luft took to the stage in a sparkling silver gown.

In less capable hands, performing a live duet with one’s dead mother could have could have been a recipe for toe-curling tastelessness. Thanks to Luft’s experience and judgement, the risk paid off, the two voices harmonising deftly and tenderly.

The show’s accent remained firmly on the positive, as Lorna regaled us with comic anecdotes that revealed Judy as quite the outrageous prankster, rather than the tragic figure of popular imagining (a misconception which apparently drove both mother and daughter “nuts” with exasperation). Tribute was also paid to the “Rat Pack” – a title which Garland bestowed upon them in jest – and in particular to Luft’s godfather Frank Sinatra and surrogate uncle Sammy Davis Junior.

The highlight of the second half was a marathon medley which traced Garland’s journey from inauspicious beginnings (Born In A Trunk) to her 1961 triumph at Carnegie Hall. Finally, and in preference to appropriating Judy’s signature tune Over The Rainbow for herself, Lorna opted to intertwine the archive recording with her own Shining Star, to richly moving effect. It was a fitting climax to a bravura display of classic show business values, lovingly staged and beautifully sung.

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