The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Ravinia Festival 

August 30, 2008

Do not read ANY of these fan reports if you want to be surprised when you see the show!

You have been warned!  ;-)

If you heard a song you liked at the show, why not buy a download of the original?

 

 

Aside from indoor venues such as United Arena and Rosemont Theater (where Donna appeared in ‘’97 with abysmal sound), ’s Ravinia Festival is Chicagoland’s summer love song and remains a sacred seasonal tradition to generations. It’s a magical place and picnic-ing in proper order on the lawn is considered an art-form of sorts with tables, chairs, candles, food, wine, vases of flowers, blankets, etc. The venue is truly both unique and beautiful, under the canopy of gorgeous trees, the starlight and meticulously manicured grounds.

Ravinia’s pavilion has a capacity of 3,250 and the lawn has a capacity of up to 15,000.

Donna had been sold out (as always) for weeks and there were large signs posted outside the gates that no more tickets were available for the performance.

My partner and I were able to meet up with a few people from the Forum that I knew and were fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Steve as well, who drove a great distance for the show, which was his first Donna experience.

Donna took the stage in a timely fashion with the infamous “changing of the guard” and TQIB intro and the set list held firm to other’s experiences over the last several weeks with Bring Down the Reign included in addition to Fame (the Game) as an encore preceding Last Dance.

She was absolutely gorgeous, free-spirited and very playful last night, which included a few amusing gaffes.

At one point during the first set, visible flying insects buzzed about her head and she took a few steps backward avoiding their flight pattern in her line of vision remarking, “There are a lot of bugs here.”

Then she brightened, laughing: “One time, I was holding a note and a bug flew into my mouth!”

As she continued, a moth or something continued to buzz her head and she recoiled once again, finally waving her arms, and stomping her foot dramatically, before giggling and smiling triumphantly. I’m not sure that she actually caught the bug and ground it out onto the floor or not, but she was amused with the situation and turned it into a bit of laughter for the audience, who roared approval.

The other funny hiccup came when she finished Mr. Music and proceeded to introduce the concept of Crayons, introducing the title track. To everyone’s surprise, the opening of the previous Mr. Music’s chords began and Donna did a double take, turning to the band in mock surprise, giggling. They all laughed, actually.

As others have previously shared, I felt that the sound mix was very muddy and it was extremely difficult to understand Donna’s spoken word and banter. But she was in excellent, strong voice.

To be honest, I did not care for the dancers and found them to be a bit irritating and schmaltzy in an overly “Vegas” shtick manner. I didn’t find their presence appropriate writhing around shirtless and reaching up to Donna during something like Bring Down the Reign. However, I know that so many others loved their addition during the tour. I just don’t happen to like the cheesiness factor on a personal level. That said, they were certainly energetic and talented, adding a decidedly new element from past concerts.

While I adore the new CD, I had mixed reaction as to how the new songs played out live.

The Queen is Back, Mr. Music, I’m A Fire and Sand on My Feet sounded great, as did Bring Down the Reign, but I was not a big fan of Crayons and Fame (the Game), which to me, didn’t translate well in terms of the live arrangements. That may be due to the fact that the two latter tracks happen to be my personal favorites on the new CD.

As with other’s experiences at various venues, the crowd sat and stood and danced to the old hits for the most part, but despite the sold-out capacity, it seemed a bit odd to me in that when those old hits were performed, people stood, but they didn’t rocket up and down dancing, as I had both expected and have experienced in previous shows.

The charming couple in front of us kept turning back and grinning, “Are you two having a good time?” Yes, we were and did. They were so sweet in locking each other at the waist during Last Dance, but I felt like I was part of a bygone generation who used to bounce up and down at Donna’s shows and while thrilled with Donna, her voice and the experience, now stood enthusiastically to rock back and forth and sway or thump their legs to the beat, rather than really dance…not unlike the Queen herself. It was a bit melancholy in being hit over the head by the fact that we’ve all aged along with her over these years, you know?

In the end, she was radiant.

The crowd roared their approval and she seemed to be having a good time.

The icing on the cake was getting in to meet and greet after the show to say hello to Donna.

There was Bruce walking down the hallways off the green room and he looked terrific, having lost a deal of weight. Out came Nathan with his camera, along with a security staff member lining us up to tape on the floor and giving instructions.

Nathan remarked that they had a very tight schedule in getting back on the road to head to Minneapolis and end the tour, that they had an early sound check there, that they needed to get Donna something to eat and that he was not looking forward to heading into a den of swarming Republicans for the convention there. LOL

Donna came out and she was stunning. The woman is so incredibly beautiful and looks so youthful and vibrant. Her hair and makeup were perfect as was her gracious, beaming smile. And there were the infamous, incredibly stylish sunglasses. LOL

No doubt, Donna, her band and crew were exhausted and are obviously looking forward to finishing up tonight. I cannot properly imagine how grueling the summer schedule has been for all of them, but they were all in such good spirit and it was very apparent that they were all enjoying it at the same time.

A fun and energetic evening with my special Diva, for whom I am very appreciative.

Dan448 (shamelessly stolen off the forums)

My wife and I were at the Ravinia show last night and Donna ROCKED the place. I have been a DJ for years and have been a fan from day one and we have seen Donna more times than I can count but this show was truly phenomenal. The blend of old hits and new music was perfectly orchestrated and Donna (as always) sounded great. She had a technical glitch with the song Crayons and a few un-choreographed laughs which made it even more real. We were in the second row and there were three "old" people in front of us who were on their feet the entire night. The crowd really got into at Dim All The Lights and I don't think anyone sat down after that.
It was a completely filled venue. I think the Pavilion holds about 3000 people and the lawn hold thousands! When Ravinia sells out their lawn section; it is a HUGE show!
Enjoy using some or all of these pictures on your site. Thanks to my wife who did some great photography. The highlight of the night - me and the older lady in front of me got to sing On The Radio with Donna when she reached out to the crowd.

The set was pretty much the one she has been doing at the last few venues.
At Lat Dance, the crowd went out of control and Security was having problems with people rushing to the stage (in a good way).

- Den14

Ravinia Festival-Highland Park IL-August 30th

First of all, Ravinia Park is an absolute gorgeous place. I had never been to this venue before, yet fell in love with it immediately. It is amazing how many people fill the park grounds with their picnic set ups. This is definitely a place where people come to party. The best part is, there are several restaurant choices and there is something for everyone. It is truly an experience. When the shuttle bus dropped all of us off in the park, it kind of looked like a jungle. But then we walked into a beautiful paradise of greenery and large trees. Once we arrived at the covered pavilion, it reminded me of a smaller version of PNC Arts Center in NJ.

Donna arrived on stage on time and as lovely as ever. The crowd roared as she appeared to the Queen is Back. The set list was the same as her previous shows. The Intro for Mr. Music was repeated by accident before she went into Crayons. Donna smiled as though she wanted to break into laughter. They quickly then went into Crayons. During intermission, we had a little visitor. A small raccoon was peeking out of the front of the stage and being very friendly and playful. This was quite a surprise and very amusing to all us in our section in front of the stage.

Donna was giggling most of the night and especially when she introduced Mary. This of course was after her Hattie Mae performance of Slide Over Backwards.
Earlier in the show, Donna said she was in very good spirits, as she explained she had one more show to go, and that she was ready for a break. She did express though how wonderful it has been being on the road promoting Crayons. Everyone was very receptive and cheered her on.

The sound was awesome in the pavilion. I could just imagine how her voice would sound echoing through the park grounds. We were treated to an encore of Fame and of course Last Dance. The crowds of people in the park still lingered long after the show. Some were even having Donna sing-a-longs on the way back in the shuttle bus. It was also wonderful to hear all of the positive remarks people were saying about the concert. This was a truly unique and beautiful place to experience Donna. She was feeding off of the crowds enthusiasm the whole night and it showed tremendously !

Jonathan Weitz-Studio City, CA

 

Photos from Den14

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