Sunday, November 02, 2014

Halloween Night Music Club

Sheryl said it best when she remarked that her latest album, Feels Like Home, was classed as a country album but to her it just sounds like a Sheryl Crow album. Good point. Every one of her albums does have its own flavour, but they’re all distinctly and unmistakeably Sheryl Crow.

So when you’re lucky enough – as I was, yay! – to catch her in concert, you get a cracking variety of songs – from moody blues, so to speak, through funky folk and harder rock numbers and, yes, a dash of pop and a light twang of country. All of it quintessential Sheryl Crow.

Served up with heart and soul and smiles and those rich Missouri bourbon vocals. Newer material, old single-malt favourites blend together beautifully.

Last time I saw her live it was on a Wednesday at the Hammersmith Apollo and it was one of my all-time favourite shows. The fact that this occasion was kicking off the Halloween weekend made little difference, to be honest, but the venue had a transformative effect. Maybe I was wowed by my first experience of the Royal Albert Hall – there’s a grandness to the setting you don’t get from larger arenas – but there was something of the splendid old-theatre atmosphere of the Apollo, amplified.  I don’t say it was better – tough, actually, to choose between them, especially as the Apollo gig had that added appeal of a more intimate affair – but it was definitely bigger. More volume to fill the larger volume and raise the higher roof higher.


Sure, I was in the cheap seats, (and the Royal Albert stewards were really zealous in their photo police role, phooey, hence the attached pics are from the Apollo event) but actually had a decent side-on vantage point down onto the stage from a slightly dizzying altitude. Best twenty quid I ever spent and I felt I got more than my money’s worth.

Sheryl and her band rocked. The. House. She knows how to throw a party.

And she didn’t forget to mix in some of those quieter tracks, to tug at the heart strings and allow that voice of hers to shine. Hard to pick the stand-outs, but it can’t hurt to cite a few highlights: the always gorgeous Home, a great rendition of Redemption Day with Johnny Cash mixed in (Sheryl always pays homage to the guy and clearly holds his cover version in the highest esteem), Give It To Me, a ‘good old fashioned love song’, Easy – a drinking song, explained Sheryl – write what you know, she says My Favourite Mistake, which happens to be one of my personal favourites, from her excellent Globe Sessions album.

As usual, there were a number of notable absentee songs from the set list – I happen to love Diamond Road, for example, and there was nothing from Wildflower – but without detaining the lady on stage for twelve hours of encores she’s never going to get through her entire back catalogue. Shame, but you have to be realistic about these things.
Ultimately, there was good representation across most of her CV, opening with Maybe Angels and All I Wanna Do (of course), passing freely up and down the timeline with the likes of Soak Up The Sun, Every Day Is A Winding Road, Leaving Las Vegas and the fab Can’t Cry Anymore, plus her cover of Cat Stevens’ The First Cut Is The Deepest. And many more, as they say on the album ads. Rounding it all off with a rousing encore that included Led Zep’s Rock and Roll.

She’s a gorgeous singer, a beautiful songwriter who clearly loves her music – and not just her music, but music, period – and that fuels every performance. I honestly doubt it had been a long time since she rock’n’rolled. I suspect she does it pretty often.

All in all, a terrific Halloween party. And no tricks in sight. Only one massive treat.

SAF 2014

No comments: