Gloria Gaynor & the Village People at Hard Rock Live, September 22

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Gloria Gaynor

With The Village People

Hard Rock Live, Hollywood

Thursday, September 21, 2011

Better Than: A Thursday night bedroom extravaganza in which you are simultaneously Gloria Gaynor, the Village People and the entire audience.

Disco gets a bad rep. But you gotta remember: after the tumultuous Civil Rights-Vietnam-Nixon era -- and the major-bummer-in-'69 mushroom cloud that closed it out -- people wanted pop culture to make them feel good again.

The Village People and Gloria Gaynor represent twin poles on the feel-good disco spectrum: the former champions Dionysian disco hedonism; the latter, a shining Apollonian beacon of strength and self-preservation.

The Village People didn't have a single instrument onstage, but kept their spectacle engaging with their Crosby, Stills and Nash-quality harmonies and frequent, Baby Boomer-humor-friendly in-between song banter. It seemed like the construction worker and cop may be the most o.g. Villagers left in the ensemble because they got the most mic time, cracking jokes about AARP and constantly hyping the audience on disco, the disco era and the website for the official Village People. "Macho Man" had the ushers dancing in the aisles. We couldn't help but shed a tear for Randy Savage.

Gloria Gaynor's full-band brought a nice organic touch to her performance. Not to mention the disco diva Queen's pipes are in full working order. Girl can sing, whether it's full-bodied renditions of posi-ballads like "I Am What I Am" or crowd-pleasing covers like Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly." Despite Gaynor's impressive vocals and cucumber-cool stage presence, the audience energy dipped a little for her set. Even when you're Gloria Gaynor, the Village People are a hard act to follow: they're essentially six hype men. Plus, they're dressed like, well...the Village People. Of course, "I Will Survive" brought the audience to "YMCA" levels of excitement.

Critics Notebook

The Crowd: overwhelmingly female (sequined grannies, Moms-night-out), a handful of older gay men, families with young children and highly sedated Baby Boomers.

Overheard In The Crowd: "She puts up with my rock and roll, and I put up with this B.S.. I've smoked ten cigarettes, left to piss ten times ... anything to get away from this shit!"

Personal Bias: We believe in the Village People.

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