Thursday, August 07, 2008


Ok -- this is my first post for a while. In the past, if my name was attached to a post it would probably contain a screed about politics or how anyone who still calls themselves a Republican should be tarred and feathered and run out of polite society. But, I have decided to lighten up! So, tonight's post will be a review of the free concert that we went to tonight: BellaDonna, live at the Ronald Reagan Sports Park in Temecula.

I should start by saying that this concert probably should have been billed differently. It was listed as "Belladonna: A Tribute to Stevie Nicks." Ok, fine. The band's website lists them as a tribute to Stevie Nicks & Fleetwood Mac, and I think there is a big distinction to be made there. (Confession time: I am a 41 year-old ex-punk rocker, but I have a soft spot for Stevie Nicks and (most of) Fleetwood Mac in general. How sick is that?!) We picked up a couple of boozes on the way to the show because, seriously, I need to be loaded to stay in a place named after Ronald Reagan! We also took dinner along and planned to make a picnic out of it, but we ran a little late, so that only partially panned out.

Anyway, the show started and, well, here was an eight-piece band fronted by a woman who is really trying hard to be Stevie Nicks. The thing is, she wasn't trying to be like Stevie Nicks, she was trying to be Stevie Nicks! Big difference. She came out dressed in a black gypsy-style dress, changed various shawls and tablecloths throughout the show, posed, tried to make her voice raspy, etc. At one point, I realized that the illusion was a little better without my glasses on, since I could almost pretend that there was a blurry Stevie up there, singing Rihannon, or Stand Back, or whatever. It was at that point that I felt bad for this band. This was, probably, as good as it gets for them: playing a free concert at a park in Temecula on a Thursday night, while the lead singer tries to play 'What Would Stevie Nicks Do?'. There will be no record contracts, no big sold-out shows, nothing major for them, because Stevie Nicks is still performing!! Maybe I'm just acting jaded, but if I can shell out the cash and see the real thing, that means that I am only willing to accept a note-for-note, move-for-move imitation for free! Elvis impersonators get work because Elvis is dead; Dred Zeppelin used to get work because they added something (reggae) to the Led Zeppelin songs. This was just a copy without the fame attached.

Then, about half-way through the show, something weird happened.

Wanna-be Stevie left the stage, and one of the back-up singers took the lead vocal and said she was going to do a Christine McVie song, and they played Say You Love Me. Hey -- there's a real band here, not just backup music for a Stevie Nicks clone. Then the other backup singer took the mic and sang... oh crap, I don't remember what she sang now, but she was entertaining and, in the middle of the song, switched places (mid-beat) with the drummer to take part in a five-minute drum solo! Now THAT was unexpected! When Wanna-be Stevie came back, she wasn't acting like Wanna-be Stevie anymore, she was now Michelle Tyler, singer, still dressed like Stevie Nicks, but acting like she had her own personality. To me, at least, the rest of the show was like watching a different band -- a better one, and a band that wasn't just trying to be a low-rent version of something else. Suddenly, they had their own presence, the lead guitarist got to take the Lindsay Buckingham role on Go Your Own Way, and it seemed like they were having a lot more fun! (I know I was!) Also, the crowd seemed more willing to get into it on the dance floor. I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere for everyone. I think it is: 'Don't take any wooden nickels.' Or maybe 'No one likes a tattletale.' Something like that.

All in all, it was a cute show. I thought they kind of loused up Gypsy (dammit!), and they didn't play any Lindsay solo stuff (like Trouble or Holiday Road), but they rocked a few songs towards the end (Edge of Seventeen & Don't Stop). Not perfect, and I would have changed a few things, but it was a nice Thursday night in the park.

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