Lifetime's 2nd annual ''Women Rock!'' concert unites a diverse lineup, including Mary J. Blige, Pat Benatar, and Nelly Furtado

By Chris Willman
Updated October 26, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Crowe and Harris: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

Take heart, Lilith Fair fans: The all-women rock festival isn’t dead. It’s been reincarnated for one night, once a year, as ”Women Rock! Girls and Guitars,” a benefit concert for Lifetime Television. The second annual edition of the show taped at L.A.’s Wiltern Theatre last week and comes to the cable channel this Friday (9 p.m.), full of delightfully incongruous duets and more girl power (as opposed to grrl power — this IS Lifetime) than you can shake a Y chromosome at.

Last year’s show featured a stage full of women performers all openly worshipping their forebears, Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, whose ”Barracuda” provided a show-opening group-sing. This year’s telecast offers a similar start, with a stageful of chicks, Dixie and otherwise, prostrating themselves before 2001’s unofficial historic honoree. ”I just have two words I want to say — Pat Benatar! — and that’s all,” gushes Sheryl Crow as the ”girls” take the stage for the first time.

Who knew that Mrs. Neil Geraldo was a goddess? Not us, but the opener, ”Heartbreaker,” features vocal licks from Crow, Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines, and newcomer Shea Seger, and the sight of Benatar, who hasn’t exactly been in the public eye lately, still looking not a pixieish pound over 100 and hitting notes in octaves last heard by Benji.

An annual benefit for breast cancer charities, ”Women Rock!” is already establishing itself as a forum for some interesting duets you’re unlikely to see or hear on any other stage. Mary J. Blige and Maines team up on Etta James’ ”At Last,” with Maines proving just how short a distance it can be between country and soul. A disproportionate number of the highlights, in fact, involve Maines, either in partnership with the other stars (sharing lines with Crow on ”It Don’t Hurt” and Seger on ”Love Me Like a Man”) or just fronting the Chicks (”Sin Wagon”).

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