Wednesday night I went to see Idina Menzel in concert at the Hippodrome Theatre. She was fantastic. First off she just looked like she was having a good time up on the stage. I always appreciate when performer’s look like they’re having fun and don’t just seem like they’re going through the motions. She also did a good job of singing everything you would probably want her to sing if you’re a fan of her from Broadway plus throwing in some other fun stuff.
She did a number of songs from Wicked. She started off the show with a great performance of “Defying Gravity”. The audience was super into it and it really set the tone for the whole evening. The other two songs from that show that made an appearance were “The Wizard and I” and a small portion of “For Good”. She sang that off-mic and without the backing band. It really demonstrated her incredible voice. I could still hear her perfectly well sitting halfway up the balcony in a fairly large theatre.
She also sang a couple songs from Rent. She dedicated “No Day But Today” to Jonathan Larson who gave her her first big break in that show, but who sadly died the night before it’s first performance off-Broadway. A number of Broadway performers I’ve seen in concert have certain songs they will pick audience members to sing with them. Idina did that with “Take Me or Leave Me”. She actually had four different people do various parts with her. She went down into the audience and sang with two different people from the crowd. I do have to point out for this part she was really a veteran performer thinking of her entire audience as she realized walking farther back in the Orchestra section that the balcony audience probably couldn’t see her anymore and made sure to come back in view for us before they started singing. Most people don’t think of things like that and I really appreciate that she did. Then at the end she had two other people come up on stage with her to finish the song out. The first girl was pretty good. The second girl was decent until the end of her part when she tried to belt out a high note that she couldn’t quite reach. The guy and girl Idina brought up on stage with her were not good at all. They were both way off key and not even in the same wrong key, so that part was kind of painful to listen to. No matter though. I love the fact that she did that and I know the audience members who got to sing with her will never forget it. Those people are probably never going to sing on a stage in front of people like that ever again, and even if they weren’t great it’s awesome that they got up and did it because I certainly wouldn’t.
She of course had to throw in a song from If/Then her most recent Broadway show. I wasn’t super enamored with that show, so I didn’t really know the song because I would have only heard it once when I actually saw it. She rounded out the show with a number of other Broadway songs including “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, a medley of songs sung on Broadway by Ethel Merman, and singing “Tomorrow” as her final song of the evening.
She sang several songs that I wasn’t familiar with that apparently came off of her various albums, which I have never actually listened to. She also sang covers of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and Radiohead’s “Creep”. I love a good mashup so I especially appreciated the mashup of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” and the Police’s “Roxanne” that she did. Speaking of mashups she of course sang “Let It Go”, which was her final song before the encore. There was a lot of stuff going on with her performance of that song including a mashup somehow at the very end of it with the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Give It Away”. I love things like that. There of course was a lot of audience sing-a-long that she encouraged with that song, but it was also the second time in the show that individual audience members got to sing with her. There were three little girls sitting at various places in the front row and she gave each of them a chance to sing the chorus. It was super sweet and I love that she did that.
One other amusing, at least to me, side note. You may recall the band Vertical Horizon from back in the late 90s/early 2000s. My sophomore year college roommate was obsessed with them long before they ever signed with a major record label and put out the album you probably know if you know them at all. She got me really into them too. Thus when Idina was introducing the people in the band playing with her and she said an on the bass Seth Hurley I was like wait is this the same bass playing Seth Hurley that was in Vertical Horizon back in the day? I looked it up as soon as i got home and sure enough it totally was. He apparently has played bass in backing bands for a trillion people since he left Vertical Horizon, but this is the first time he’s ever popped up for me again at least in a way that I’ve been aware of. It amused me.
It was really a wonderful concert and worth every penny of the not so cheap ticket.