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promotion of the concert. She was touring to promote her latest album, Humming
to Myself
, the third in a series of recordings of her singing standards with an
orchestra. She said that the first she had heard of the evening being billed as a
greatest hits performance was when she was riding in from the airport and saw a
billboard promoting the performance as such.
Ronstadt opened the concert with her 1983 hit "What's New?", then told fans
about how disappointed she was that the concert was billed as a greatest hits
show. She continued performing songs from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, arranged by
Nelson Riddle, such as "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," Frank Loesser's
"Never Will I Marry," Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," and Cole Porter's "Get Out
of Town." Ronstadt did perform orchestral versions of a few hits, such as "Ohh
Baby, Baby," "Just One Look," and "Blue Bayou." However, her performance
didn't sit well with many in the audience (several others requested refunds during
the course of the show). During "Blue Bayou," Ronstadt stumbled over some of
the lyrics, gasped for breath during some passages, and ended the song by singing
in Spanish, reportedly screaming the lyrics instead of singing them. The reviewer
from the Las Vegas Sun summarized the show as "A generally lackluster, unenthu-
siastic performance by one of the top singers of the 70s and 80s. Her performance
was uninspired and generally flat. She lacked stage presence, doing little more
than sleepwalk from song to song."
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Ronstadt sensed that things weren't going
great, electing to shave 20 minutes off the performance and end early.
Then, at the end of the performance's obligatory encore, she announced that
she'd perform the Eagles' song "Desperado ." Ronstadt had performed the song at
the end of every concert over the past month, and each night she offered the same
dedication to filmmaker Michael Moore , who's recent Fahrenheit 9/11 had been
causing controversy since it opened a few weeks earlier.
"There's this guy who is a great patriot," she said. "I think he loves his country
deeply, and he's trying to get the truth out. His name is Michael Moore ."
Ronstadt is a long-time political activist. She was once romantically involved
with former California governor and presidential candidate Jerry Brown. She was
very active in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s, and she often performs at
benefits for various causes. The notion of dedicating songs to controversial figures
in the news was not new to Ronstadt. During an earlier tour, she had dedicated
"Straighten Up and Fly Right" to executives at the Enron Corporation. The Moore
dedication was hardly out of character.
The dedication received a mixture of cheers and boos from the crowd. Ronstadt
expected this - it had happened during every other stop on the tour as well. She
had even predicted such a reaction in her earlier interview with the Review-Journal.