TVD Live Shots: Idina Menzel at Royal Albert Hall, 6/15

The title of this article should be “a metal fan goes to a pop show.” After taking my wife to numerous metal shows around the world, most recently King’s X and Guns ‘n Roses (within the same week), she asked me to get tickets to a show that SHE wanted to see. She was dead set on seeing Idina Menzel perform live, and I owed it to her. To be completely honest I wasn’t familiar with who Idina Menzel was, although I like to think if myself as that one music fan that does listen to “all types of music.”

I scored third row center seats for us because I thought, if I’m going to see a pop show of this magnitude, I’m going to get the absolute best seats possible—in case I have a miserable time, I’ll at least have a killer seat. Add to it that the show is at the legendary Royal Albert Hall. It’s my first time seeing a show there and it’s starting to get interesting. The stage is set, and after a fantastic dinner I take my wife to our seats and I head back to the soundboard (which is way, way, way in the back) to get ready to take a few shots and try to capture a story within the first three songs (standard photog rules of engagement). Then Idina hits the stage.

Any parent who has a toddler will recognize her voice in about 2 seconds. I have a 2 ½-year-old little girl who dreams of being a princess and can’t stop watching the movie Frozen. I’ve heard the soundtrack so many times I feel like I was its producer—3 to 4 times a day for the past year, I’ve probably heard these songs more than any other rock/ metal classics in my lifetime.

But that was just the beginning. I had no idea that Menzel was so versatile. Having won every award under the sun from Broadway to film to TV and beyond, Menzel covered numerous genres putting her own unique twist on each. This set really did have something for everyone including Streisand’s  “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” the Simon and Garfunkel classic”Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a rocking version of Menzel’s “Cake,” transitioning seamlessly into Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”

The rest of the set was a mix of songs both old and new pulling from Menzel’s impressive theater catalog (Wicked, Rent) and tracks from her solo records. Another highlight was a brilliant composition of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” into “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from the Frozen soundtrack. I’m not sure whose idea it was to mash up one of the greatest songs ever written with a song written for a Disney movie, but it worked and probably turned a few new fans onto an undercelebrated gem from the White Album.

Menzel mentioned that she was still recovering from a bad cold and that her voice wasn’t in top shape. That was a surprise to me because I thought her voice was absolutely stellar. This is coming from someone who’s seen some incredible female voices before including Adele, Pink, Beyonce, Nicole Atkins, Ann Wilson, and Celine Dion. This woman can easily hang with these contemporaries any day of the week. I did, in fact, recognize almost every song in the set, except just a few from her latest self-titled release which were quite good. The songs are super catchy, they tug at your emotions, and the songwriters are expert storytellers who take you on a journey in just under 4 minutes. That’s quite remarkable.

The only thing I regret about this show is the fact that my wife and I didn’t bring my daughter in her princess dress. At the end of the night, Idina invited all the kids to come up on stage and sing a verse of “Let it Go” from Frozen. Little Penny might not have comprehended the entire show, but she would have lost her mind singing with Idina, not to mention it would have been an all time favorite photo moment of her first few years on this planet. Either way, I got a few great shots of the evening, and I’m just hoping I can catch Idina again in London and have her sign one of my shots “To Penny, Wish you were here.” That will make her world—and mine.

Bottom line: This woman can sing! While I don’t necessarily see myself attending more pop shows in the future, I do have an entirely new respect for the genre. On top of that, it’s reassuring to know that my daughter has good taste in music at such a young age—and that the voice behind the princess is legit.

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