At a time in which the price of nearly everything
seems to be going up, Lucy Lawless fans were presented
with a free outdoor concert at the Universal CityWalk,
located in the studio-state of Universal City.
The Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend and I showed up at
the concert several hours early, as is our custom, to
take up a waiting position close to the stage. A barrier
had been set up roughly eight feet back from center
stage, and when we arrived, a single layer of Lucy's
fans was already entrenched around it. We chose a
position in the second "row," near the center, and
settled in with many familiar faces.
For those unfamiliar with the CityWalk, it is an outdoor
complex combining entertainment, shopping and dining. If
you can imagine the architectural equivalent of a
pinball machine playfield, you have grasped the
essential experience of it. It is chaotic to navigate,
dense with colorful facades, and filled with gargantuan
CityWalk surprised me by being not just a good place to
see a show, but a good place to wait for a show. It was
easy to grab a snack and and go back to waiting, and
there was a constant stream of activity to observe in
One of the bonuses of arriving early was getting to see
Lucy and her band perform a soundcheck. While the band
and the back up singers tweaked and tuned, the fans got
to see Lucy onstage sporting her new, darker hair color
and a ravishing blue gown.
Looking drop-dead gorgeous without makeup, Lucy stared
back at us through her reflective shades and
occasionally turned to her iPhone for a bout of texting
(hey, aren't the fans supposed to be the nerds?). Lucy
and the band performed a few songs all the way through,
including "Superstar," which once again brought me close
to tears (see Roxy 2008 concert report).
Shortly after the sound check, a series of opening acts
commenced, introduced by a Universal CityWalk Master of
Ceremonies. Throughout the evening, this MC found it
greatly entertaining to repeat the name "Lucy Lawless"
at every chance so as to elicit squeals from Lucy's
female fans. It became tiresomely Pavlovian after a
while, but the MC continued, in his simple way, to enjoy
it, and we continued to oblige him.
A Circus on Stilts was paraded out onto a separate
stage, situated behind the fans. I was able to watch the
act with the aid of a giant screen, which later carried
Lucy's image. There were several such screens,
positioned to provide a good view of the stage acts to
various locations on the CityWalk, such as the terraced
dining areas. The act concluded with an explosion of
streamers that dispersed throughout the crowd.
Next, we were introduced to the opening band, called
Paperback Hero. They were an amazingly decent, unsigned
hard rock band. It cheered me to see that Los Angeles
still offers casual opportunities to see a hard-working
band on its way up. Lucy's fans listened to them
appreciatively as the evening half-light darkened into
After the MC took some minutes to aggressively wrest as
many screams as possible from the fans, Lucy finally
entered on stage in a drapey knit two-tone dress and
stack heel boots. The thin knit swung easily as Lucy
danced and sang to "Tell Mama," the opening song. The
purple and beige dress gently clung to Lucy's shape as
she twisted and turned--it was a great performance
Having seen many of Lucy's concerts and appearances, my
impression is that her singing abilities are
consistently better each time I see her. I love hearing
the development of her voice and her renditions of
specific songs over time. At this point in Lucy's
singing career, she sounds fantastic. This was the first
concert I have attended where it seemed like Lucy's
voice was fully her own, unique, complex and
distinctive. I felt like I could both see it and hear it
in the confidence she showed on stage.
Moving into "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" and "Like the
Way I Do," Lucy began working that dress in some
unexpected ways. Lucy's repertoire of stage moves seems
to have expanded, and "Like the Way I Do" included a
plunging crotch grab down the front of the dress that
brought gasps and sudden screams from her fans. You can
find it at around 3:28 on the .wmv version of the file (likethewayidoconcert.wmv)
available for download from Lucy's fan club page.
It is not an exaggeration to compare the impact the
dress made on fans to the first appearance of chaps at
the Roxy concert in 2007. Later, after the show, it
would be much discussed at the planned fan gathering at
the Hard Rock Cafe. The dress also seemed to click with
more casual concert watchers as well. Several guys,
presumably in casual attendance, yelled "We Love You,
Lucy!" in unison.
Lucy pitched her voice low, in imitation of the guys'
deep voices, and said "Thanks, guys," before
wisecracking, "It must be the dress." Lucy teased
gently, "Why haven't I seen you at any of my other
shows?" Pointing to her "old fans" in front, Lucy
commented, "These three rows in front--I recognize
them." The underlying message was, "You think you love
me, but these are the ones who really love me."
Lucy played consistently to her audience, often
prefacing her songs with a few words to indicate that
they were intended for her fans. She chatted easily on
stage and called out or waved to various people in the
crowd, including former Xena: Warrior Princess director
T.J. Scott and Victoria Pratt, who played the character
Cyane on the show. Encouraging everyone to "think of
their favorite actor," Lucy goofed with musical director
Michael Orland and her backup vocalists Terry Wood and
Peggi Blu during "You're So Vain."
Earlier in the week, Los Angeles has experienced an
intense heat wave. Although the worst heat was over,
temperatures rose on Saturday in Universal City, but it
was never truly uncomfortable during the afternoon wait
for the concert to begin. However, once the opening band
took the stage and the crowd began to close in, the
temperature seemed to increase despite lower evening
After performing "Wonderful," with its lyric question,
"Does it feel hot?" Lucy remarked about being warm on
stage. As the show progressed, the heat was evident in
the glowing sheen of perspiration that appeared at the
hollow of her throat.
The warmth, however, never marred Lucy's appearance. In
keeping with the 70s fashion evident in her wrap dress,
Lucy wore a "natural" style of makeup, including nude
tone lipstick and eye shadow. Heavy black eyeliner and
false eyelashes completed the look, making Lucy's blue
eyes blaze out from between fringed lids.
I had not thought that a dress would be a good match for
the fiercer side of Lucy's personality, but she was able
to make it work on angry songs like "What's Up?" and
"Bitch." Regrettably, Universal's "family-friendly"
policies required Lucy to change the lyrics to the
latter song from "I'm a bitch," to "I'm a witch," a
switch that made me dissolve in giggles each time I
That wasn't the only editing required by Universal. The
opening band also mentioned Universal's family-friendly
requirements (also known as censorship in some circles).
Despite these strictures, Lucy wriggled in a few naughty
moments, including the aforementioned crotch grab, and
slipping a same-sex pronoun into the second verse of
"Fooled Around and Fell in Love."
I noticed that Lucy changed lyrics in several songs when
it suited her phrasing. Its another example of Lucy's
growing conformability on stage. There was an easy,
almost effortless feeling to the show as it moved from
tender songs, like "New and Beautiful," to the poetic
"Hallelujah" to the raucous "River Deep Mountain High."
All of the elements I've mentioned--Lucy's voice, her
stage presence, her personality and her beauty--all
seemingly upped a notch--combined to make this hour long
concert a stand out. Just when I thought I'd seen all
the talent and all the sexy that Lucy knows how to
bring, it was like she broke open her secret stash and
brought out the really good stuff.
After the show, several fans gathered for dinner and
drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe. As it turned out, Lucy was
also there with her good friend Marissa Jaret Winokur,
seated at the opposite end of the terrace. Midway
through our meal, Lucy and Marissa joined us for several
minutes to chat.
Yes, that's right--we were in the Presence. Lucy asked
us to pass on to the other fans how happy she was that
we all came out to see her and support her at the
concert and that we gave her confidence and courage
during her performance. I managed to commit the message
to memory before the dulling force of Lucy Haze
descended upon me, blotting out rational thought.