Royal Albert Hall, London – until 15 June 2017
If you’re a theatre fan then I’m sure you’ve heard of Idina Menzel. The last time she played the glorious Royal Albert Hall, she was known among the theatre community for creating the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked but since then has reached a stratospheric level of fame. Thanks in part to John Travolta mangling her name, but mostly for her role as the Queen herself, Elsa in Disney’s hit movie, Frozen.
Compared to previous concerts, Menzel sung less of the classics and through her almost two hour concert, pulled a lot from her eponymous fifth studio album which was released last September. She came out with a power strut, and after a couple of mic issues started playing her drum and swinging along to the upbeat “Queen of Swords” and gradually transitioning to the sweeter “Small World” and then the audience favourite “Season’s of Love”. The fans cheered and joined in and Menzel cracked a smile, obviously enjoying her performance at the iconic venue already.
Idina is clearly very comfortable on stage; her personality and self-deprecating humour shining through and filling time between songs with little anecdotes and witty comments to the audience. Aside the humour, she was also unafraid to get personal. Before bursting into the upbeat “Cake”, Idina explained that she wrote it after a conversation she had with her fiancé Aaron Lohr.
“I said to him ‘Are you sure you wanna marry me because I have a lot of issues?'” she shared and explained why his response made her love him even more and inspired this song. “he said “I can handle you, honey. It’s all good, you’re cake” And so we heard Idina tackle the song with vigour and excitement before moving into a cover of Led Zepplin’s “Black Dog”.
Another of Menzel’s recent achievements was starring in the remake of Beaches alongside Nia Long so it was only fitting that she included her beautiful rendition of “The Wind Beneath My Wings” which smoothly transitioned into the mighty “Defying Gravity” which earned Idina her first standing ovation of the night.
A wonderful moment of the night was when each of the band members got a little solo/improv moment to show off how talented they all are. Especially Idina’s back up singer who was outstanding in the cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady”.
The moment soon came which delighted many of the younger audience members as well as most of the older ones, when Menzel performed a mysterious mash up of the The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” and the Frozen hit “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”. The almost a cappella “For Good” was another lovely moment which achieved another standing ovation.
As the last piece before the encore, Idina asked all the little children in the arena to come to the stage to help her perform “Let it Go” which was extremely cute and funny as most of them looked terrified the minute the mic was near them! Menzel made sure none of the children were scarred for life and let them repeat the song as many times as it took for them to feel comfortable.
The whole concert was a very fun and enjoyable night out. I found it to be somewhat more sombre and reflective than her previous concerts but I guess that comes with having younger audiences and it was nice to see a different side to Idina. This was a memorable night for sure and I’m sure a treat for Menzel as well as her fans!