May 20, 2010


She's one of my idols--I love her voice and can orgasm off of her glamour. She also has decades of fantastic material. Face it, today's pop stars are not going to have full stadiums of fans singing 40 years later about harajuku girls or Fergalicious or even Bootylicious, for that matter. Diana has always worked with the best songwriters and had fab producers. And her songs are timeless pop perfection. With the Supremes, she captured a whole generation with the outstretched hand accompanying the lyrics "Stop! In the name of love" and every hairbrush-holding karaoke fool still knows when and how to do that movement today. Diana could fill a whole concert with her scads of hits, barely talk and easily fill 2 hours with plenty of hits to spare. Unfortunately, that's exactly what she did. The pre-show excitement for the sold-out engagement was palpable. But Diana didn't deliver.

Except for her typically phony, show-biz exclamations like "I can't believe how wonderful you all are!", Diana barely said a word between songs and the effect was very I'm-just-going-through-the-motions-cuz-I've-already-got-your-money vibe. At the very end, when she introduced her band and cracked a joke or two, she actually seemed quite sweet and excited that her "orchestra" for this tour contained live strings and horns. But she missed the vital opportunity to connect with the audience until her encore. Inexplicably, the huge video monitor showed the audience dancing and the musicians at times, but NEVER zoomed in on Miss Ross herself. What a pitiful concept! Was she having a herpes outbreak? From my cheap seats, it could have been Princess Diandra onstage--except that Diandra moves much better than Diana.

I realize that The Boss is now around 70, but in truth, Diana always could have used lessons from any good drag queen on choreography. She's never been much of a dancer, preferring the elegant goddess delivery to down-and-dirty dancer. RuPaul, who idolizes her, is a great dancer. But at some point in their careers, both blacktresses decided "Let some other less gorgeous creature get out there and be the sweaty dancing machine." Diana has precisely 3 moves: stretching out the arms, flicking back the hair and pumping one fist in the air--with the variation of holding the head back with each. Occasionally the band was throwing down some truly slamming arrangements of Mirror, Mirror and Love Child but Diana chose to play it cool and frankly, dull. And how could she be recreating the one of disco's most climactic moments--when the beat kicks in from the slow intro into the main body of Love Hangover--and not feel the magic of her own seismic hit?

I once had dinner with a Motown legend who told me "Diana never could sing." I totally disagree. Her voice is so expressive and feminine--often haunting in it's beauty. There were moments, particularly during the ballads, when her tone was so spellbinding that it was hard to believe she wasn't lip-synching. She also gets major points for costuming. That bitch had on more bugle beads than there were t-cells in the audience. Of course, 3 of the 5 gowns were the same dolman sleeve affairs she's worn for decades but they still sizzled on that fine fox.

She skipped Reach Out And Touch in favor of a medley dedicated to Michael Jackson which began with the lovely Missing You and went into the cheesy Jackson tune You Are Not Alone. Of course, Diana had a history with MJ--when I was a kid Motown's press machine falsely claimed that she'd discovered the Jackson 5--but I couldn't tell if this was truly done out of love or just a calculated way to make the notoriously chilly diva seem warmer and more human. I was delighted when she surprised us with her 90's "hit" Take Me Higher and the Ashford and Simpson reggae-disco gem It's My House.

It's My House seductively likens her home to her love--or if you want to be vulgar as I always do--her vajayjay. "It's my house and I live here." "There's a welcome mat at the door. And if you come on in, you're gonna get much more." "You say you want to move in with me." This point in the show would have been the perfect opportunity to have someone update her act a little with some scripted patter. Playing up the sexual innuendo a little about her home being a little older now but still having open house from time to time. "I've had 5 children so you know the house had to get a little bigger." Or mentioning something topical like "It may be in foreclosure like a lot of homes today, but it's still here" would have gone a long way to bring something, ANYTHING fresh to the table. Maybe that's not classy enough for Miss Ross. But except for Take Me Higher, this show could have been done in 1982! There was absolutely NO mention of anything since--not her family, NOTHING! We were interested enough in you to buy tickets--can you give us a little something something?

In her obligatory Lady Sings The Blues segment, Diana sang one song with some lyrics about something which would make you do things you knew where wrong like drinking and gambling. Can you imagine how the crowd would have beat the walls in a frenzy if she'd included a reference to her drunk driving arrest by adding "Sometimes it'll make you do wrong things like return videos you've rented in Tucson when you're drunk"? Again, not classy enough for Miss Ross but it would have been a way for her to connect with fans like me who have followed her every step of her career and crave something real, personal or simply new from this superstar. But Diane doesn't feel the need to do that. Her facade doesn't break for one second. She has the ability to outstretch her arms in a glittering gown and transport people out of their everyday doldrums with her decades of magical melodies. If that's enough for you, then I recommend her concert. She does sing live, unlike so many of today's "divas". But I'm sorry to say that I prefer Miss Ross on cd.