Judy Garland in Concert at the London Palladium.
Star rating: three and a half stars
The London Palladium was buzzing with excitement as Judy Garland fans flocked to see this ‘audio visual spectacular’ celebrating her life.
Garland died in London in June 1969. Many of the audience attending this one-night-only event would not have been born then, but they were enthralled by the video footage of this iconic performer and confirmed the star’s own comment: “There is nothing old-fashioned about good music.”
Entering the Palladium, patrons were able to enjoy a display of costumes and dresses from her career, on loan from her son Joey Luft. While fascinating, it would have been nice to have had some signage with more information, although the ushers were very well briefed.
On stage three screens hovered above the live orchestra, displaying photos and film footage from interviews and performances. The fans loved it and for any would-be performer it was a masterclass in showmanship.
BBC presenter Leo Green was expected to host and narrate the event, but was nowhere to be seen, and this was to the detriment of the evening. The show needed someone to steer the journey, link the story and provide more information.
The orchestra was superb but it would have been better to set the musicians further upstage because occasionally they were a distraction. The screens needed to be lower and bigger so the audience could feel on more intimate terms with this complex lady.
Technically this show must have been a nightmare and on several occasions the sound was sub-standard, the lip-synching was out, and many clips had not been cleaned sufficiently so annoying crackling was audible.
The show would also have benefited from a programme, which people would have gladly paid for, giving more information about the exhibition, the musicians and conductor, the creative team and Garland herself.
However, nothing was going to mar the enjoyment of the majority of the audience who still worship Garland and who spontaneously leapt to their feet to give rapturous applause as she said her final goodbye.