|8/26/05 Donna Summer at the Universal (Gibson) Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA.
WOW !! Is the word that can sum it up, well perhaps AMAZING, AWESOME or quite frankly PHENOMENAL can all be used to describe the show at the Universal Amphitheater (why they had to change the name to Gibson – just sucks – it will always be the Universal – but enough about that.) This may be long, so please bear with me.
It was a really hot SUMMER night here in L.A. and I mean HOT ! The temp was 95 degrees plus in the day and we knew it was gonna get hotter but we had no clue that Donna would just blow the mercury right outta here. Before the show the music was getting louder then gradually louder then they played “I Got Your Love” and the crowd just started screaming and getting antsy for Donna. A few more minutes before the show, the I got a surprise call from my sister on my cell and asked “where are you” so I said, “I am at the Donna Summer concert” then she says, “So am I” ! What a nice surprise, but she was up in the mezzanine section and I caught up with her after.. Anyway, so finally the lights dim and the band begins the medley of Donna songs and the crowd is just going wild !! Then the smoke starts coming (at least I think there was smoke LOL) and the disco ball begins to rise and then there she is Donna Summer, with her right arm up in air with her head thrown back and wearing a black glittery flowing gown with separate matching glittery sleeves as she rises up to the top of the piano and the band starts into “She Works Hard for the Money” all the while the crowd is screaming, dancing it was so great and so dramatic and so DONNA !!
After that she goes into “Once Upon A Time / I Love You” and explained about how she wrote it for her 7 year old daughter Mimi, who now has a 7 year old daughter. It was great, a hard follow up to SWHFTM but it was fantastic, her rendition of “I Love You” was simply amazing, I was frozen in time only to be brought back with the heavy heavy desire to scream my lungs out in appreciation because she simply floored me with her voice, I could almost feel the oxygen leaving my head as I was screaming so hard, I was almost feeling the need to be resuscitated I honestly didn’t think she would sound that great singing this song after all these years but boy was I ever wrong. What came next was the explanation of “the cake song” and how this New York woman asked her about it, Donna was saying this with a heavy New York accent, it was quite funny and she then sang “MacArthur Park” complete with the bridge section of the song. Was this not the song that got many of us hooked on this Diva or what? She sounded better than ever on this song.
We all know the song list from previous reviews, so forgive me as I may jump around a bit, but one of the many highlights was when she did “Natural Woman” and the “twins” story part – she was just really funny what with all her banter and her head movements while she was talking she was just really funny all night and so appreciative of all her fans and got teary eyed at one point from all the love we showed her. But, when we heard the full power of that voice from God when she sang the song, I simply got chills to no end. “Smile” was simply beautiful, as was “My Man Medley”. She was fabulous with another glittery gown, singing while sitting on the piano, I never get tired of this medley. At one point she brought her daughter Brooklyn on stage to be one of her divas for the “On The Radio” part, which was nice because her daughter is so beautiful, you know then she had other audience members be her back up it was cute.
After yet another costume change into a nice white pantsuit type of thing she goes into “No More Tears” with sister Mary. Excuse me !, but has this girl been taking singing lessons or what, because she was belting out with Donna and at times you almost could not tell them apart. Way to go Mary !! This rendition was nice because it had an intro of girl talk (the Ferrari story intro but altered), about men of course, then the song played out and the crowd was once again on their feet. Donna was hilarious singing the ballad part and then moving her lips in every direction but very fast, OMG it was hilarious. She had big screens on each side of the stage so you could see everything. Is it just me, but don’t you just love when you see the whole crowd up on their feet screaming ( you know looking at the whole crowd and seeing 6000 + people), dancing and all in all just worshipping this Diva to no end – I simply love it and can’t get enough of it because dang nabbit she soooooooo deserves it. After that she goes on to tell us about her 8 years in Germany (while treating us to some chit chat in German) and how she was very ill at one point and heard “Knights in White Satin” on the radio and always wanted to sing it but was too scared to but now she just had to sing it because she is not young anymore and then sang it !! Again, when she just lets loose with the full power of that voice, I cannot describe it other than “bone chilling”. I was just floored again, I don’t know if I was alive or in purgatory just waiting for the show to end so I could go to my final resting place because what came next was my ultimate thrill for the night. Yep, she sang the “Try Me / I Feel Love / Love To Love You Baby” medley. I had literally just prayed to God to please have her sing this medley ( I swear I did) and my prayers were answered. I almost jumped out of my skin !! But yes I literally jumped from my seat and my friend next to me was just laughing at me. It sounded awesome
and she just sang, WOW ! She did a little moan and some coos for LTLYB, and that is all I needed. I don’t think I want to see her do this song like she did in the 70’s (well maybe) but I am perfectly fine and extremely happy and satisfied that she did it at all. I mean seeing her moan and groan while humping a microphone stand while smoke billows thru her legs is not my idea of a grandmother. My life is now complete, as I never saw her perform in the 70’s and having played “Live & More” at least a thousand times and still counting, this just completed my quest for the “old songs” to be sung again, so yes I am no longer in purgatory but I am now in heaven reflecting on everything that is Donna and my life is now complete! Yes, call me dramatic I don’t care, but this woman has simply moved me beyond belief and has come full circle in her amazing career (with more to come I am sure) !
She then proceeded into “Cold Love” which by the way, I again was floored as she just sounded great and then went into “Bad Girls/ Hot Stuff” and I swear I think the crowd was gonna have and aneurysm – oh wait, that was probably me. Everyone was on their feet screaming and dancing it was a sight (if I hadn’t shaved the hairs off of my arms they would have been standing too). After “Hot Stuff” she said her goodnights and left and the crowd kept on roaring louder and louder and there I am with my freakin' lighter ( I was the only fool in my section doing this – only because I never did this LOL) and finally the now famous violin solo and then “Last Dance” ! I just can’t say enough about this song other than it epitomizes disco as a whole and she is the forever-reigning Queen of Disco (but we all know she is so much more than just disco) ! After this song the crowd was even louder than before, I didn’t think it was possible but it happened, then she told us that she would sing this certain song and that she didn’t even remember all the words but she would do it for us. It was “State of Independence” I love this song and haven’t seen her sing it since 1983. It was great and she finished and then proceeded to do yet another encore of “Last Dance” only the last verse just before it ends (she did this several times and we just ate it up like a turkey on thanksgiving – minus the belching). The crowd just didn’t want her to leave, of course neither did I but after just shy of 2 hours of singing she hesitantly left. She left a completely satisfied crowd and left us with wonderful memories of a great hot SUMMER night. I loved this show because the staging was quite a sight and then the fact that she didn’t have a curtain drop at the end so it was always just open, and almost like you were at home and it never really ended because it will be in your mind for a long long time.
All in all, it was a great night simply put, I am left with this completely satisfied feeling and if possible I am even more in love with Donna Summer than ever before. It WAS truly “a magical, mystical night”!!
- Patrick A
[Editor's note: I haven't heard from one LA fan who will call the amphitheater anything but the Universal Amphitheater. Not ONE! LOL]