Caught the Linda Ronstadt show Nov. 8 at San Manuel. My review is running in the newspaper on Sunday or Monday (Nov. 11 or 12), but I’m posting it here now. I’m also adding, here and only here, an excerpt that I decided, at the last minute, to delete from the print version. It’s kind of mean, I guess.
By John Weeks
There may have been a few flummoxed people in the crowd at Linda Ronstadts sold-out show in Highland on Thursday.
Maybe they havent kept up with Ronstadts career. Maybe they only remember the pop princess from 30 years ago who ruled the charts with hits like Different Drum and Youre No Good.
So maybe they were flummoxed by the mariachi band. And the Mexican dancers. And the fact that Ronstadt sang entirely in Spanish.
But if these people were murmuring at all, they were drowned out completely by 6,000 others who raised the roof with their shouts and cheers at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino.
Ronstadt, whose eclectic career has earned her devout followings in several genres, presented her Canciones de Mi Padre show, based on her 1987 album of the same title.
The title means Songs of My Father, and during her show she shared memories and anecdotes about both of her parents, as well as her grandparents.
She was brilliantly backed by Los Camperos di Nati Cano, the Los Angeles mariachi band that has collaborated with Ronstadt on all three of her Spanish-language albums.
In fact, the band was onstage for the entire 75-minute concert. It performed for 15 minutes before Ronstadt made her appearance, and kept performing when Ronstadt took several breaks during her short set.
Ronstadt performed for maybe 45 minutes, total, which might have seemed on the skimpy side for people who paid from $40 to $60 for tickets.
An encore or two would have helped pad things out, but she didnt oblige.
Her fans didnt seem to mind. Ronstadt still is one of the best singers in the world, as she has been for most of five decades now.
The 11-time Grammy Award winner is not the skinny stick on roller skates that we remember from posters of the 1970s. Theres much more of her to love now. And the fact that she is a larger instrument probably imbues her voice with added resonance and complexity.
She completely captivated her audience with a commanding, wall-shaking performance of songs that enchanted and excited her listeners, even those who didnt understand a single word.
One other quibble: She dressed abominably, in a schlubby pantsuit with a giant scarf wound thickly around her neck. She looked bundled up for winter.
She cut an incongruous figure next to the bright, colorful dancers and musicians who surrounded her on stage. She looked like a snow-suited Minnesota crossing guard who has been teleported through some wormhole into a swirling, festive Old California folklorico.
She’s a big gal, sure, but couldn’t she have worn something loose and comfortable yet with a little flair, a little appeal? A colorful fiesta dress, perhaps?