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Dorchester native Donna Summer heats up the Bank of America Pavilion

7/16/2008, 7:05 a.m.
Donna Summer swings the skirt of her leopard print dress as she performs during her concert at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, Calif., 1979. She recently performed in Boston. AP

Her band dressed in all white and her set was donned in purple, the color of royalty. It was little surprise then that Donna Summer, the woman known as the diva of disco, emerged onstage singing, “The Queen is Back.”

And she is back.

The song, one of the tracks on her new album “Crayons,” was as much a nod to her new record as an answer to fans who have been awaiting her return.

On Saturday, Summer, a Dorchester native, brought the audience to their feet for a one-night-only performance at the Bank of America Pavilion.

“I’m so glad to be back in Boston!” she exclaimed. “You’re absolutely the best crowd. Nobody does it better.”

Summer was back home as part of a 20-plus city promotional tour for “Crayons,” the release that marks her return from a 17-year music industry hiatus. She gained national acclaim in the 1970s and ’80s with disco and dance hits like “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Bad Girls” and “On the Radio.”

She performed some of those hits during the concert, her voice sounding as pure as it did in the beginning of her career. At the same time, she showcased her new sound with “Stamp Your Feet,” a song about fighting adversity, as well as “I’m a Fire”, which she explained is about following that internal flame that keeps you motivated, whatever purpose you have in life.

A number of radio contest winners had the chance to meet her after the show, and were star-struck.

“We grew up with her,” said Lorraine Varone, whose husband won tickets and a backstage pass to meet Summer. “We were dancing with her during disco. She was fabulous then and she is fabulous now.”

Other revelers were equally enthralled.

“She was the same — and more,” said Boston native Deb Duncan.

Summer appeared to enjoy herself too, talking back and forth with the audience, and at one point even getting teary-eyed during one particularly long standing ovation after one of her songs.

“Thank you, thank you,” she said. “You are making me feel at home.” When the crowd kept cheering, she had to wipe her eyes and even said, “Don’t make me do this.”

Her on-stage gratitude stood in stark contrast to her behavior offstage. Summer refused to take interviews after the show, and showed absolutely no interest in talking to reporters about her homecoming. When requests were made to speak to her while she was en route to her next venue, her publicist issued a brief statement saying that she was on a bus and would not call in.

Summer’s performance lasted an hour and a half, and included multiple costume changes, three back-up dancers, a colorful set, and members of her band who she says have been with her for over 30 years.