Review: Judy Collins

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Originally reviewed for GaySocialites.com.

For years before I first heard John Kelly’s drag impersonation — channelling, really — of Joni Mitchell, I had only the vaguest idea of who she was. Judy Collins, though, I had definitely heard of, and her hit version of Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now” had a solid place in my musical memory. After seeing Kelly, however I became a big fan of both him and Mitchell. Today, I’m much more familiar with Joni’s obscurities than most of Collins’ work.

What a treat then, to see Collins at the Cafe Carlyle and get a better sense of what a dynamic performer she is. She’s an authentic river of song, in truly golden voice at the age of 70. She’ll be talking about a song in passing, and then launch into three or four lines, singing with breathtakingly casual grace and beauty.

When she sings a song in earnest, she’s truly arresting, imbuing each line with subtle style, implying stories behind stories. She’s known as one of the best interpretive artists in pop music, and in this act she brilliantly illuminates songs ranging from traditional folk to Dylan and the Beatles to Sondheim and Jimmy Webb.

The stories she actually tells are truly entertaining, varying from the touchingly personal to the hilariously bawdy. She says she’s working on a memoir, and if what she tells here is any indication, it should be loads of fun. All in all, her spectacular, undiminished talent gave me one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had in cabaret.

For tickets, click here.

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