|The wait is over. My wife and I went to see Donna Summer at Bluesfest in Ottawa Sunday night, July 13. Bluesfest is held yearly in an open-air venue in the middle of Ottawa, in an area called LeBreton Flats. It was a beautiful night - one might even say a "magical, mystical night" ( ;-) ), perfect for an outdoor concert. Donna even thanked God for the breeze!
Here's a list of the songs Miss Summer performed (if my notes are correct - yes, I took notes!):
The Queen Is Back
I Feel Love
Dim All The Lights
I'm A Fire
Sand On My Feet
On The Radio
Enough Is Enough (duet with Mary)
MacArthur Park (with the bridge!)
Stamp Your Feet
Slide Over Backwards
Selah (Mary Bernard)
She Works Hard For The Money
Fame (The Game)
The song list is the same as yours, but Con Te Partiro and Be Myself Again were missing, both of which I would have loved to have seen and heard live. I of course loved the old material; of her new songs, I'm A Fire - awesome, Sand On My Feet - smooth, Mr. Music - cool, Crayons - better than I expected, I have a better appreciation of this song, Stamp Your Feet - energizing, Slide Over Backwards - not sure, but appreciated nonetheless, Fame (The Game) - rockin'!
My overall impression of the performance? The woman can sing! No really, she hit notes and held them, much to the appreciation of the audience. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that her vocals were a bit enhanced to sustain a note, but honestly...WOW!
Although we had reserved 'gold circle' seats (at $125 a pop), we were disappointed with where they were located - the FAR left of the audience, not even in front of the stage. Thank goodness we had a jumbo screen in front of us. People who paid general admission were able to get close to the centre of the stage. They may have been 'parked' there a while though... The reserved-seating fold-up chairs were bound together, making sitting comfortably almost impossible.
The concert? The audience was quite subdued for the most part. I KNOW!!! When Donna was talking about how long she has been performing, there were some 'shout outs' to her, which seemed to visibly affect her, bringing a few tears to her eyes. We do love our Diva. She needs to know that! (Did I mention that the last time she was in Ottawa was 30 years ago?!) Donna seemed very comfortable on stage, even somewhat dynamic with her movements and her stage presence. There wasn't too much banter with the audience, but she did say that making records was minor compared to being able to perform live. How true. The audience appreciated her performance, but didn't go the extra mile. At one point, one of the band members picked up a white towel and spun it over his head in an effort to get us cheering louder. As seen in other reviews, the new material was appreciated but not as well
received as the classics. The song by Mary was nice, and she too can sing, but it seemed out of place. I'm not sure if any others in the audience made the connection that she was Donna's sister. Standing and dancing seemed prohibitive in the reserved area. After all, we paid dearly for seats. We couldn't obstruct anyone's view, even though our own view was somewhat obstructed by the people standing in general admission. Too bad. Only during the final four songs was anyone in the 'gold circle' up and dancing. Donna seemed to rush through the introduction of the people on stage with her. I didn't see Bruce with the other background singers. The show started after some Bluesfest announcements at 9:30 p.m., and ended around 11:15 p.m., with no intermission.
At the other end of the venue (remember this is a large open area) was a merchandise tent, where there was stuff from the day's performers - for Donna, this was comprised of three different t-shirts at $35 apiece (black tee with Crayons graphic, black tee with She Works Hard For The Money graphic, and a yellow tee with the I'm A Fire graphic in orange), a black Crayons tank top was also $35, a black hoodie at $60, and an 8"x10"-sized Crayons postcard at $5. I was disappointed there were no programs.
After the show, I walked to the front of the stage to see if I could catch a glimpse of Donna. I did get to see her get escorted from the stage to her tour bus in the dark. Once outside the gates, a few die-hards (including me) waited by the service entrance near the tour buses to see if we could somehow see the diva. "No can do" is what we were told, "There is no scheduled meet and greet". It was late and understandably "Donna need to rest". Cathy, how did you ever get to meet our Donna?
All in all, a truly great show, marred only by the poor (and expensive) seating arrangements. Next time (I sure hope I don't have to wait another 30 years!), I'll know better.
Here are the pics I promised. Some are quite good. All taken without a flash. (There didn't seem to be any issues with audience members taking pictures. I even got a video - the last minute or so of The Queen Is Back.) I used the 'Natural' setting on my Fuji FinePix S700, a great camera for the money. My favourite is DSCF1592 - has a bit of a Crayons look to it. Let me know what you think. Feel free to post them on your website. With or without my 'review'.
Your friend unknown,