But a good one-fourth or one-third of the season is devoted to pop music performances. The ”wine and cheese” folks are still there on the lawn with grandma, grandpa and the rug rats, but if you want to seriously watch a performance, you must secure a place in the 3,200 seat pavilion.
We arrived at the sold-out show without any tickets, but were able to somehow buy one at the box office and two others from a scalper, who really wasn’t a scalper at all. You see, he and his wife were Ravinia seasonal patrons who just wanted to wine-and-cheese-out on the lawn and unload their pavilion seats. So, they sold them to us for face value.
Blondie hit the stage at the precisely 7:30 pm and proceeded to play hit after hit. I’ve been listening to critics commenting that the 60-year-old Debbie Harry’s voice is shot. Nothing could be further from the truth. She did not hit one bad note all night. And she connected well with the audience. She is big on eye contact. She knew exactly what she was doing back in the late 70s and knows exactly what she is doing now. And it shows. Remember, she was Madonna before Madonna was, but without the air traffic controller microphone.
The New Cars hit the stage at 9:30pm with a stage setup surrounded by four circular video screens that resembled gigantic snare drum heads tilted about 45 degrees both up-and-down and right-and-left. Before playing one note, they dedicated the evening’s performance to Vince Welnick (keyboardist for the Tubes, Todd Rundgren and the Grateful Dead), who passes away the night before. Nice touch.
The New Cars were nice and loud – a good loud, not a Ted Nugent loud. This gave those classic Car tunes a real kick in the butt. They also performed Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light.” This was my first time hearing Todd perform that song live. Todd and Elliot Easton pulled off the dual guitar solo flawlessly.
Todd’s “Bang On the Ukulele Daily/Bang On The Drum All Day” was as good a time as any to take a bathroom break. “Black Mariah” was a very un-Car-like choice. I think it gave Todd a chance to really wail on his guitar. And he did – big time!
This was also the first concert I have ever attended where “musical chairs” was the norm as opposed to the exception in the pavilion. Pavilion seats are assigned. But during the performances, everyone stole everyone else’s seat. We did it too. We had to. How else do we end up in twelfth row center?