Concert review: Simpson a better singer than dancer

Published: Friday, July 23 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

JESSICA SIMPSON, RYAN CABRERA, SHIFTY AND CHERIE, USANA Amphitheatre, Wednesday.

Jessica Simpson, the singer and star of MTV's "Newlyweds" told the Deseret Morning News that she's "a singer, not a dancer." And she proved that at the 97.1 ZHT Birthday Bash Wednesday.

After a video presentation that showed Simpson getting lost trying to find the USANA stage (similar to a scene from the mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap"), Simpson emerged from under the stage and sang "I Think I'm in Love With You" from her album "Sweet Kisses." She flounced around the stage and did some dance moves, which were a little awkward and jerky.

Throughout the evening, bits of the ditz popped up, but for the most part, Simpson came off as a talented singer who loves her family and her fans. In fact, every chance she got, she plugged her sister Ashlee's new album. "It's much better than any album I've made," she said. "And here's her favorite song from one of my albums."

That's when Simpson and her band began an acoustic version of "Be," from her recent album "In This Skin." The exotic chord changes proved to be a challenge for Simpson's voice but she redeemed herself with the soaring chorus.

But singing and attempted dancing weren't the only things Simpson offered. She had two groups of fans chosen from the audience standing on either side of the stage. During breaks, she chatted with them and allowed them to ask such questions as "What is your favorite holiday?" and "Who is your role model?" (The answers were "Christmas" and "my mom," respectively.)

Simpson performed a handful of covers, including Berlin's "Take My Breath Away," Robbie Williams' "Angels" (both of which are found on "In This Skin") and Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money."

She then took time to dedicate "I Have Loved You" to the military.

Opening the show was newcomer Cherie, who did a glorified karaoke set and tried to get the audience to dance. Shifty, formerly of Crazy Town, also karaoked his set but did get more audience members out of their seats to dance.

Another newcomer, heartthrob Ryan Cabrera, really knows how to perform. With his werewolf hairdo and cool stage presence, he got the girls screaming during "On the Way Down" and "True." In a couple of years, this guy could be going places.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com

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