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Bands, Artists and Fans Making a Great Ravinia 2018 Season

HIGHLAND PARK, IL - The 2018 concert season at Ravinia is underway and attendees are making the most of it.  Lakeshore Public Radio so-far has attended a handful of shows at the venue including Alan Cumming's "Legal Immigrant" show on Friday, July 13th.  This season is Ravinia's comedy debut as the venue is hosting stand-up comedian shows for the first time.

Cumming put forth a lot of points during his "Legal Immigrant" show, during the course of which he also mentioned "advanced scrotal aging," somehow working that into the conversation.  The show to me looked like Cabaret meets stand-up.  He also did a great job on an Adele song.  He commented on the current political climate in the U.S. and how it's effecting immigration, how immigration is being treated by the current administration and he also pointed out that the United States itself was built by immigrants.  Cumming sang several songs that were written and performed by immigrants, including Jewish Americans and Scottish Americans and made sure to drive that point to the crowd.  He also noted that he is a Scottish American and he told the audience that four days after President Obama was elected, Cumming himself became a legal citizen of the United States.   He also made sure to mention that President Trump's mother is an immigrant and Trump himself is married to an immigrant.

Then there was "Lost 80's Live" on Sunday, July 29th in which 10 bands including A Flock of Seagulls, Naked Eyes, Wang Chung, Animotion, the original vocalists of When In Rome UK, Farrington And Mann, Nu Shooz, Dramarama all performed their biggest hits that literally had audience members out of their chairs.  Each band did about a half hour set all sounding great, just like they did back in their heyday.

Animotion featured both original front people Bill Wadhams and Astrid Plane.  They mentioned their new album, released in 2017 called, "Raise your Expectations" and they performed a track from that album.  

Nu Shooz thanked the audience for keeping their music alive and sang their hits "Point of no Return" and "I Can't Wait" among others.  It was the band's first time performing at Ravinia.

The show also included Gene Loves Jezebel, Christopher Anton (formerly of Information Society) and Trans X.   As far as I could tell, the bands stuck to the hits and kept it to that during each set.   Members of Animotion and Dramarama went out into the audience area to meet and greet their fans.  

An "Evening with Cake and Ben Folds" was Wednesday, August 22nd.  Ben Folds at times had fans singing his songs for him and much of the time he was standing at the piano.  He performed songs  "The Mean Streets of Highland Park,"  "The Battle of Who Could Care Less,"  "Levi Johnston's Blues," "The Luckiest," "Fred Jones Part 2," "Rockin' The Suburbs," and "Zak and Sara," among others.

Then Cake took the stage with their 13 song set, which included songs, "Frank Sinatra," "Sinking Ship," "Mexico," "Meanwhile, Rick James," "Sick of You," "Never There," and encore song "The Distance," which had everybody out of their chairs in the pavilion.  

When the band initially went on, Cake brought a potted apple tree on stage and stood it right next to lead singer John McCrea for a portion of the show.  Then McCrea made the audience guess what kind of tree it was.  The band gave the tree away to a guy in the audience named Chris.  McCrea told Chris to be sure to take good care of the tree, give it lots of shade, and send the band a picture of it every year and to be sure to follow thru.  

An interesting intro to the encore, lead singer McCrea came out on stage and said that they had better play fast because there's a hard curfew at Ravinia because there are beautiful homes surrounding the venue, beautiful homes full of hostility, he said.

Ravinia kicked-off September with the Culture Club's Boy George, the B-52's and Tom Bailey from the Thompson Twins.  It was an 80's music fan's dream.  The place was packed on Saturday night the 1st and not even the buckets of rain that descended on Ravinia, detract the crowd that filled the lawn.

Sharon Jackson is the local host of "All Things Considered" and a reporter for Lakeshore Public Radio. She has been with 89.1 FM since its launch in 2009. Sharon is also a radio DJ in Chicago, and has been since 2004. In her previous job at Metro Networks/Westwood One, she was heard on am 890 WLS, WGN radio 720 am and am 560 WIND. She has also delivered news and traffic reports on radio stations all over Chicago and the suburbs including 95.9 The River, 98.3 WCCQ and Star 96.7.