Idina Menzel 2015 World Tour
SSE Arena (Wembley Arena)
Reviewed on Saturday 27th June 2015
Some might presume that a performer who starred in two of the most iconic musicals in Broadway history, won a Tony award, performed for the likes of Barbra Streisand and President Obama, released several self-penned albums, built up a hugely dedicated local fanbase all around the world and landed a handful of high profile screen roles, had reached the peak of their career... but not Idina Menzel. After achieving all of the above she went and topped it all by being cast as the voice of Queen Elsa in Disney’s Frozen which went on to become the highest grossing animated movie of all time.
Menzel has toured extensively over the years, playing venues in London such as the Royal Albert Hall and the West End's Apollo Theatre... but last night she brought her current world tour to Wembley Arena... "Have I made it to Wembley?!" she exclaimed during the opening moments. It was an interesting crowd made up of people who have been following Menzel's career for years as well as those who have only discovered the star following the Frozen phenomenon. Later in the evening she thanked all those who have been with her for years and travelled to New York to see her in all the hits and flops, as well as newbies who had just discovered she was "some Disney princess who curses".
Menzel owned the SSE arena, her non-stop fiery vocals blew the roof off the venue. She explained she was battling a cold, yet Menzel's vocals have never sounded better - she was on it, acing the money notes and showing off some magnificent riffs and vocal wizardry throughout. Not only is she a world class singing talent, but Menzel is also naturally funny onstage. She worked with the audience brilliantly, telling short stories without going over the top and giving each song a lengthy introduction.
From the word go Menzel set her own bar extremely high, casually kicking the concert off with 'Defying Gravity' which is one of the biggest and most iconic songs in musical theatre. From thereon after she pushed her own bar higher and higher. Menzel seemed to pace herself well, without noticeably holding back (although after a hugely impressive rendition of 'Don't Rain On My Parade' she admitted to needing a few extra sips of tea - her final note was quite something).
Performing a mixture of theatrical numbers from her career, songs which inspired her whilst growing up as well as a few surprises, the evening featured something for everyone. Menzel performs new arrangements so nothing feels out of place – she has a consistent sound.
It was a joy to hear Menzel perform some of her original material. Her music reflects many of the roles she has played - the lyrics are incredibly empowering and the sound is refreshing. It had been a while since I'd heard 'Brave' and 'I Stand', but both songs have been stuck in my head for the past twenty-four hours. Later Menzel let rip whilst performing the title track from her first album Still I Can't Be Still. During the encore she also performed a new, stunning song called 'Child' which she recently wrote for her five year old son Walker.
Other stand outs included 'The Wizard And I' from Wicked, 'River' which featured on her most recent album Holiday Wishes, a mash up of 'Love for Sale'/'Roxanne' and an Ethel Merman tribute during which Menzel belted out almighty performances of 'There’s No Business Like Show Business', 'Anything Goes' and 'Everything’s Coming Up Roses'.
After stating that she's very grateful to be associated with such brilliant songs such as 'Let It Go' and 'Defying Gravity', Menzel admitted that some days she wakes up and just wants so sing completely differently... she then poured her heart and soul out during a cover of Radiohead's 'Creep', proving there really is nothing she cannot do and make her own.
Menzel swept into the audience to find a duet partner whilst performing 'Take Me Or Leave Me' from RENT, the show which marked her professional and Broadway debuts. After singing with a greenified 'male-phaba', Menzel led three girls up on stage, with all three relishing their moment in the spotlight. The show then reached its emotional peak as Menzel told the audience about Jonathan Larson - the incredibly talented composer of RENT who died unexpectedly on the day of the show's dress rehearsal. Menzel gave a heartfelt rendition of 'No Day But Today', inviting the audience to sing along, it was a truly magical moment.
As the evening drew to a close Menzel performed 'Always Starting Over' from her most recent Broadway show If/Then which I adored on Broadway. She then sang 'For Good' from Wicked before finishing with the song everybody had been waiting for... 'Let It Go'. Menzel went full out, the concert must be exhausting to perform but she showed no signs of tiredness - her last note was strong and on point. She then returned to the stage to conclude the evening with an enchanting rendition of 'Tomorrow' from Annie.
The last year and a half have been life changing for Menzel, and she shows no signs of slowing down. There is plenty in the pipeline – her concert is touring across America, she’s making a sitcom for Ellen DeGeneres, (presumably) working on Frozen’s sequel and reprising her performance in If/Then for the musical's US tour... but let’s hope it isn’t too long before Menzel releases some new music and returns to London.
Menzel is a performer at the top of her game; she is at home on stage and takes the audience with her on every step of the journey. I love what she stands for - Menzel has inspired a new generation of talent, she dares to be different and isn't afraid to admit her imperfections. Idina Menzel cannot be put into a box - is she a Broadway diva? Is she a singer? Is she an actress? There are so many different sides to her talents, with all these unique qualities coming together to create a true legend.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)