Amazing voice at 62 but shame the concert was so short
REVIEW by CHRIS GRAME [email protected]
Few have survived as well as the black disco diva Gloria Gaynor, who performed on Saturday night to an enthusiastic crowd of around 10,000 in Lisbon.
At 62 years old and without a wrinkle on her face, the veteran soul songstress who clocked up a string of hits in the 1970s proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that she still has what it takes to get the crowds up and boogying.
The problem was not so much the hits she sang, for which she is internationally famous, but rather the ones she failed to sing and which should have formed a staple part of that evening’s repertoire.
Evergreen classics such as Substitute from her 1978 platinum album Lovetracks, Let me know, I have a right from the 1979 album of the same name, and Honey bee and Reach out – I’ll be there were substituted by duets from other singers and even a song by Sting and the Police – Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you.
There was a rendition of Michael Jackson’s I’ll be there, a cover version of Roberta Flack’s Killing me softly and even a strange rendition of the Supreme’s classic Stop in the name of love.
And with at least three duets, the concert began to take on the tones of a Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson concert rather than a Gloria Gaynor show.
Her voice was in fine fettle, although it was, in the first half, drowned out by the simply awful Portuguese sound technicians who clearly didn’t know what they were doing and added so much base the singer could have been forgiven for thinking she was making a guest appearance in a Meat Loaf or Whitesnake concert.
Then she made a serious faux pas, which her Portuguese promoters should have alerted her to – she admitted she couldn’t speak Portuguese and so began addressing the audience in Spanish. Not the best of ideas judging by the boos and calls to speak in English!
The second problem – and I think this is an issue for those cash-strapped concert-goers who forked out anything from €35 to €75 for a ticket – was her insistence on abandoning the stage three times for around 15 minutes each time, leaving her backup singers to run the show.
Not that the backup singers were in any way bad; it’s just that if I’m paying to see Gloria Gaynor sing then that’s exactly what I expect to hear.
However, all said and done, much could be forgiven when she performed her anthem classic I Will Survive – a song that almost never became a hit as it was originally the ‘B’ side of the record company’s first choice Substitute.
For over 15 minutes and three different renditions, Gloria Gaynor had the house in positive uproar, all ages from six to 60 on their feet singing along, clapping and waving their arms around wildly. It was, of course, the moment that 80%, I suspect, had paid for. And Gloria didn’t disappoint.