Concert Review: Donna Summer at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston, MA
Setting the tone right from the start the undisputed reigning queen of disco opened her show high atop a pedestal with a sparkling crown as her backdrop proving that once a diva – always a diva. As one of the original members of disco’s royal court Massachusetts’s own Donna Summer kicked the night off right at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston with her legion of disco disciples on their bedazzled feet as she aptly belted out “The Queen is Back”. Indeed she is!
The show started off strong with 1977’s “I Feel Love”, often considered the dawning of techno music. Summer’s vocal prowess captivated the crowd who may have stopped dancing, if only momentarily, to appreciate the performance. The hits flowed early as she sang a somewhat edited version of “Love To Love You Baby” and then as a huge jukebox filled the screen behind her she belted into the opening of “On the Radio”, not missing as step.
As a special hometown treat fans were privy to the first live performance of Summer’s new dance track “To Paris With Love”, a song she penned after a trip to the city l ‘amour with her daughter- who at the time was modeling for Louis Vuitton. The new song instantly transported the crowd to the city of lights set to a backdrop of The Eiffel Tower. The song displayed the Summer falsetto that we’ve all come to know and love with influences pulled from her past body of work, all while delivering a song that keeps Summer on the map with fresh new tracks instead of falling back on the oldies but goodies.
Don’t get me wrong, the oldies but goodies are the reason a lot of us were at the show in the first place but Summer’s career has transcended far beyond her popularity in the 70s and the 80s. Summer’s 2008 release Crayons spawned a number of the night’s high energy performances. Summer delivered “Mr. Music”, “Stamp Your Feet”, “Crayons”, “I’m A Fire” and “Bring Down the Reign” from Crayons and the crowd didn’t miss a beat. The stage was transformed to a musical wonderland as dancers busted their moves trapped within the “iDon” – Summer’s latest pitch for Apple. The dancing oozed out into the aisles where all walks of life joined together to dance the night away.
After that it was back to the classics for a bit. “Enough is Enough” followed by “Macarthur Park” which was probably the loudest sing-a-long of the set. Backed by a full band from Nashville and some back-up singers who probably deserve their own record deals, Summer was perfectly complemented by their talents.
Taking a moment to honor the life and legacy of Michael Jackson, Summer told the crowd that she and Michael shared the favorite song “Smile” – first heard in Charlie Chaplin movies and first sung by Nat King Cole. Jackson covered the song on his 1995 double album and now Summer performed the song for him to a backdrop of images of Michael Jackson, a touching and fitting tribute.
Picking the pace up again it was a 1-2-3, punch with “She Works Hard For Her Money” into “Bad Girl” into “Hot Stuff” – I’m pretty sure that’s what’s considered the triple crown of disco. It proved to be the crescendo of the evening.
All good divas know that costume changes are of the utmost importance when delivering a full-service show, and Summer didn’t disappoint. We saw four different outfits over the hour and a half adventure that started with a diva-licious sequined purple dress with embedded stars followed a tropical floral number that morphed into a red pantsuit fully equipped with bejeweled umbrella and she finished the night off in every girls go to – the little black dress. These costume changes could have led to a lull in her set but her backing band and three man dancing team kept the crowd at bay, at points actually running through the crowd busting moves and banging tambourines.
As the evening came to a close, we all knew what was coming next. Let’s face it, we’ve all had a “Last Dance” moment…and by that I mean we’ve all belted it out at the top of our lungs at one point or another. Deny as you may, I know you have so your secret is safe with me. Let me be honest though, there’s nothing quite like singing it at the top of your lungs with Donna Summer. So as we all sang along we knew that it was indeed our last dance of the night with the Queen, and although it came far too quick, the payoff exceeded all expectations…”let’s dance, this last dance…TONIGHT!”
Now in her sixties Summer exuded elegance and grace all night repeatedly ensuring that the disco crown is in the right hands. At one point in the show Summer proclaimed that her job for the evening was to make sure that everyone left the show happy. As we left the scene we had to zig and zag through a sea of strangers dancing with strangers long after the music had finished – not an easy feat in Boston. Ms. Summer, job well done!