Festival review: Lady Rizo; Assembly George Square (Venue 3)

Lady Rizo, the kooky New York chanteuse, pushes it out to the max
Lady Rizo, the kooky New York chanteuse, pushes it out to the max
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Half Jewish, half Scottish and 100 per cent diva, Lady Rizo, blind with mascara, dressed in Marchesa and dripping with diamanté is making what she calls her “European debut”.

No matter that she is in a wet tent faced with what she repeatedly refers to as 11 people, this New York chanteuse pushes it out to the max and belts out her numbers like she’s in Carnegie Hall.

Born of New York’s downtown cabaret scene, where she has entertained people including Prince, Rizo is a diva of a decidedly kooky variety. She strokes the legs of a woman in the audience (me), sticks long stemmed roses down her cleavage and makes an audience member take a rose from between her teeth (me again). She downs a martini full of olives then drinks her flower water and gets the crowd to cheer her hair (a beautifully sculpted old-fashioned up do.)

The voice is an old-fashioned spine-tingling belter and I love the choice of songs – Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing, Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours, Piaf’s Non Je Ne Regrette Rien. There are also a couple of Rizo-penned numbers which hold their own in the company.

Backed by keyboard, drums and bass, Rizo’s Grammy award-winning voice soars; she stretches her hand to the skies, wriggles, blows kisses and flirts. She is sexy, but she is bonkers, over the top, send-yourself-up sexy and it works.

She could do with sharpening up her comedy chops while she’s in town – a getting-changed-behind-a-screen interlude was a bit ropey. Her backing band also needs to develop its own mystique. But I loved the finale where we all got to touch the hem of her dress and worship at her feet.

I’d love to see her in a packed, sweaty nightclub – playing to an adoring crowd and dripping with pearls and sweat. But even in a slightly damp tent, Rizo was able to summon the spirit of cabaret. C’mon Edinburgh. Let’s show the lady some love.

Rating: ****

Until 27 August. Tomorrow 10:20pm.