|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)