She owned the stage – slinking and strutting, whirling and waltzing, singing and singing and singing in that sensual, conspiratorial contralto that drew you in close and closer.
There’s nothing like that deliciously decadent Weimar cabaret music, and while popsters from Tom Waits to Nick Cave and beyond have all mined the style in recent years, no one has such a total command of it today as German chanteuse Ute Lemper.
On Friday night, Lemper brought her cabaret show, “The Last Tango in Berlin,” to the intimate yet glamorous Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, and it was masterful, a stunning performance sung in a half-dozen different languages.
Centered around the boisterous ballads of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, as well as the intoxicating tango tales of Astor Piazzola, the alluring blond Lemper vamped about the stage in a black-spangled, skin-tight evening gown that was slit up to her thigh, at times accenting the songs by enticingly playing with a red feathered boa.
She lounged across the Steinway grand during “Koffer in Berlin,” in a dead-on Marlene Dietrich impersonation. And she slapped on a bowler at a precarious, racy angle for a final flight through “Mack the Knife.”
Empathetically accompanied by pianist Vana Gierig and bandoneon player Tito Castro, who followed her every intricate shift in tempo and dynamics throughout the complex arrangements, Lemper was as grand an actor as she was a vocalist.
“I will give you love,” she hissed as the quintessential temptress, “and you will give me dollars. I will give you music, and you will give me dollars. I will give you whiskey, passion and even hope; you will give me dollars.” You could smell the greed and decay on her breath, even from the back of the theater.
And when she sang, she wasn’t just naughty; she was lascivious. She wasn’t just joyous; she was positively gleeful. She wasn’t just heartbroken; she was devastated.
UTE LEMPER SET LIST
Falling in Love Again
They Call Me Naughty Lola
Yo Soy Maria
Balada Para un Loco
Koffer in Berlin
Moritat van Mecky Messer (Mack the Knife)>Cabaret>Alabama Song>All That Jazz