(Jerome-Duncan Ford Theatre, Sterling Heights, MI - July 31st, 2005)
Donna Summer's title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn't mere hype - she was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees. Tonight, here at a packed-to-the-gills full house of diehard fans, Summer took them all back in time to that rose-tinted spirit of the disco era perfectly.
Taking to the stage twenty-five minutes late due to allowing more time for the streams of people still lining up outside for tickets, Summer - introduced by an Overture mix-medley of some of her defining hits - eventually rose from within the center of a piano high atop the back of the stage. Smoke billowing, a huge mirrorball above her head turning, shining, dazzling both the stage and her, Summer began the night with the latter day hit 'She Works Hard For The Money.'
'Once Upon A Time', written for her youngest daughter, is next, before she explains to the crowd that she broke a tooth this very morning and that she was rushed all over the place to have it fixed ... on a Sunday! Moving on, we got 'Could It Be Magic' and her disco cover of the psychedelic pop epic 'MacArthur Park' [which was also her first number one pop single], before she admitted that she had been nervous about touring again after so long ... to which she received a standing ovation that brought her to theatrical tears!
Next up she performs Charlie Chaplin's only-known written song 'Smile,' before the upbeat 'Dim All The Lights,' but then - and in clearly the weirdest segment of the night, she announces that she has a new song coming out on I-Tunes and would like to sing it for us. Instead, what we got was an acoustic one and a half minute rendition of 'With A Little Help From My Friends' that even had the not involved members of her immense backing band looking at each other!
Then, in what has to take second place to the above vision, Summer invites five ladies up on stage to be her backing singers for 'On The Radio' ... except, these girls are MOST all out of sync, don't seem to know the lyrics to the song, and worse yet, are using their new-found stardom to show off their own variety of bodily hip-shaking movements that quickly resemble outtakes from 'So, You Think You Can Dance?'! Discussing her long time love for the 'Queen of Soul,' Summer then does a pitch perfect version of 'Natural Woman,' before allowing her husband [Bruce Sudano] to take center stage to perform his own song from his 2004 album, entitled 'Lé Imaginé Café.'
As we head into the final straight, Summer reappears atop the infamous piano at the back, a costume change to the good, and her husband now tinkling away. 'I Got It Bad, And That Ain't Good' and 'You're Gonna Be So Lonely' are seductively sung, before a five minute interlude - inclusive of a female backing singers' ramble about guys that don't call when they say they will - is concluded by Summer (now in a third change of all white) singing a vibrant version of 'No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).'
Bringing the show to a close with 'Cold Love,' she then intros the band before ending the set with 'Bad Girls' - amongst a bunch of now-dangled bright red strobe lights! Playing just the one song for her encore, allowing a violinist to begin it beautifully, Summer chooses 'Last Dance,' - which actually won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal - and which sets the crowd off home both happy and contented yet again.
Photos and Review by Russell A. Trunk