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Sun, stars shine at kiss concert

19,000 jam show at Tweeter Center

By Megan Tench, Globe Staff, 6/2/2002

MANSFIELD - Extreme sunshine blessed the sold-out crowd at the 23d annual Kiss 108 concert at the Tweeter Center yesterday as 19,000 fans, both young and somewhat older, came to feast their eyes on their favorite singers.

Grammy winner Alicia Keyes, R&B diva Mary J. Blige, and Latin rocker Shakira were among the performers who drew enthusiastic responses from the crowd during the star-studded marathon.

''We're obsessed,'' said 25-year-old Kimberly Fagan of Boston, who nervously held a bouquet of flowers and a fan letter she hoped to give to Gwen Stefani, lead singer of the California rock band called No Doubt.

Fagan's best friend, Andria Ledoux, 18, shared her obsession.

''Gwen is the most beautiful woman I have ever laid my eyes on,'' said Ledoux, waving a poster-size picture of Stefani over her head. ''We have to meet her,'' she said. ''I hope she sees this poster and asks us to come backstage.''

All decked out in orange and pink feather boas, courtesy of a Dunkin' Donuts give-away, another group of young women were making the rounds, calling themselves the Dunkin' Divas.

''I am all about Johnny Rzeznik'' of the Goo-Goo Dolls, said New Hampshire resident Melissa Fifel, 18.

''Well, I want to be Shakira,'' countered her Divas partner, Ashley Ghannad, 17.

Spread out on the Tweeter Center's renovated lawn, where 7,000 reserved seats were added this year, were thousands more bikini- and minishort-clad concertgoers - some armed with both suntan lotion and Budweiser.

''This is the greatest concert ever,'' shouted Kerri Schmock, 23, who won two tickets by calling the radio station last month. ''I come here every year.''

While many in the crowd said they came to hear headliners like Marc Anthony, Alanis Morissette, and Celine Dion, several of the younger fans had other interests.

''I want to see Craig David,'' said a blushing Alison Wellman, 14, who couldn't keep herself from giggling.

''He's a hottie,'' chimed in Nikki Brooks, 17, from Chelmsford.

But it wasn't just the adoration of young girls that drew such a large crowd to the Mansfield venue. Male twenty-somethings were awed, too.

''I'm here to see Gwen Stefani and Shakira,'' said Paul Areias, 25, from Lowell, as he downed a beer along with friends Steve Camara, 24, and Tony Martin, 25. ''They're so hot,'' Areias laughed.

The Kiss 108 concert has the distinction of being the first radio program to hold such a large concert to thank its listeners, said concert organizers.

The nearly daylong event, which started at noon yesterday and was scheduled to end after 10 p.m., has raised over $1 million since 1986 to benefit the Genesis Fund, a New England nonprofit, which provides care and treatment to children born with birth defects.

''So far everything is going great,'' said Joe Mazzie, Kiss spokesman. ''The crowd is great, the weather is fantastic. We are here to thank our listeners.''

This story ran on page C13 of the Boston Globe on 6/2/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

 

 
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MUSIC REVIEW

KISS leaves no doubt that girls rock

 

By Joan Anderman, Globe Staff, 6/3/2002

Lilith Fair may be a memory, but KISS 108 went a long way toward filling that niche with an estrogen-heavy lineup at the 23d annual KISS Concert on Saturday. The 10-hour marathon was all about the girls - wildly famous girls Celine and Alanis, suddenly famous girls Alicia and Shakira, newly minted girls (who still need their last names) Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, and one unknown 17-year-old small-town girl whose name you should remember: Avril Lavigne.

Above all the day belonged to a girl named Gwen, whose group, No Doubt, is at that rarefied moment in the arc of a hard-working band when energy force fields seem to converge (as good an explanation of success as any in the fickle field of pop music) in a radiant blast of all-around cool. Beyond her impossible hairdos and wacky fashions, Gwen Stefani is one of the most charismatic performers today in any genre or gender. She commandeered the stage at a full run, singing like a little riot grrrl lost, and reminded the cheering - dare we suggest grateful? - masses how fabulously stylish mainstream pop music can sound.

Unpretentious, too, which cannot be said about Alicia Keys, who spent a good chunk of her set being introduced. ''It hasn't changed me at all,'' Keys said backstage of her quintuple Grammy sweep, a claim that was seriously undermined by a protracted segment featuring a fawning MC trying to whip up some worship. When Keys finally did grace us with her presence, her smooth, scripted performance was a mixed bag. The piano-based soul ballads that fueled her rapid ascent - ''Fallin''' and ''A Woman's Worth'' - were enticing. But forays into generic dance pop killed the light that set her apart in the first place, and suddenly Keys became just another R&B singer.

By contrast, India.Arie was the picture of earthy, understated soul. No flashy star wattage about her, just the glow of subtle textures and a deep, sensuous singing voice. Similarly, Canadian teenager Lavigne outshone contemporaries Branch and Carlton (both of whom seemed like deer caught in the headlights of a massive tour bus) with a pocketful of original, bristling pop tunes.

Celine Dion and Mary J. Blige delivered what was expected: chest-beating interpretations that were passionate to the point of being overwrought. Dion's adult pop and Blige's turbulent rhythm and blues have little in common musically, but both singers have mastered the art of full-bore, mass-consumption emotion, which they graciously heaped on their cheering fans.

Birthday girl Alanis Morissette, who was serenaded by her crew midset, stalked and paced through a sinewy half-hour of new and old tunes. Judging by the sheer volume of wrath rising from a sea of pumping fists, ''You Oughta Know'' is still the burned lover's reigning musical middle finger.

Among the smattering of guys, Goo Goo Dolls played muscular pop-rock to perfection, Marc Anthony - in a mysteriously brief three-song set - squandered his God-given pipes on big-money high notes and pedestrian singles, and British heartthrob Craig David crooned urban soul and funky hip-hop backed - compellingly - by acoustic guitar.

With help from an 11-piece band and what looked like ripped strips of rubber gripping her thighs, Colombian sensation Shakira did her best to keep the audience members from filing out in droves to beat one another out of the parking lot. Despite her rich voice and surprisingly warm stage presence, though, her set wound up as soundtrack to the exodus.

This story ran on page D15 of the Boston Globe on 6/3/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.