Written by James Downing
If you remember a few months ago, I reviewed my less than pleasurable experience seeing Sheryl Crow at The River Bend Music Fest in Chattanooga, TN. It wasn’t that Sheryl was bad, she was great, but what I was told was a front row seat was actually a seat quite a ways back from the stage behind a general admission area and the band was on a stage that was at least 40 feet high. Now for a casual music fan, that would have been satisfactory, but I am not your casual music fan. When I go to a show I like to be as close to the stage as possible, especially when it comes to a favorite of mine like Sheryl Crow. I was glad that I had the chance to see her perform several shows on this tour because the other shows that I attended more than made up for the sour taste that was left in my mouth after the Chattanooga show.
I think the Chattanooga show and a few shows that followed up to the release of Sheryl’s latest album, “100 Miles From Memphis,” were just warm up shows for the tour. For the Chattanooga show she had her regular band backing her up. These guys have been with her forever (for the most part) and I really enjoyed them. She also only did 2 songs from the new album at this show. The day before the CD was released Sheryl appeared on QVC promoting the new record and much to my surprise she had a totally new band, The Thieves. This is the band she recorded the album with and she want to get the same sound on tour as she had on the record.
The Verizon Wireless Center is a fairly new venue and very nice. The crowd was very enthusiastic and stood up for most of the show. It was a very hot night in “Hot ‘lanta” but this didn’t put a damper on the crowd or the band. I don’t see how a band can play these outdoor shows in the southern heat plus be under the hot stage lights.
Now, I thought that Atlanta was hot. I was in for another surprise when I attended the Memphis show the very next night. When we were driving home from the concert my car thermometer read 98 degrees, but once again Sheryl Crow And The Thieves put on a top-notch show.
Fast forward to Oct 1. Sheryl was playing at one of my favorite venues in Nashville, The Ryman Auditorium. Since the set list of all three of these shows was basically the same, I am going to base my review on this show.
When the lights went down, we heard Sly & The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music” over the sound system. This brought the sold-out crowd to their feet in an instant, where they stayed for the next two hours. Sheryl walked out on stage looking beautiful in a black top and black pants that had silver stripes. She walked to the middle of the stage where an electric keyboard stood and she took her place behind it. As soon as the intro song stopped, The Thieves broke into the first song on the new album called “Our Love Is Fading.” It is a very good song to start a show with and give the audience a sample of what they are in store for; however Sheryl knew that the crowd wanted to hear some older stuff too and she delivered the second song of the evening, “A Change Will Do You Good.”
I got the new CD the day it was released, and it was good that I did. All three shows featured several songs from the new project. I usually don’t like it when an artist performs a lot of new songs, but this time I already knew the new album by heart so they were not strange to me. The next two songs, “Say What You Want” and “Summer Day” really showcased the band’s soulful sound. I never thought I would hear Sheryl being backed by a band of this type and if you told me they would be her backup band for the tour, I would say it wouldn’t work… but it did! I really like this group of musicians.
Before performing the title track, “100 Miles From Memphis” she said “I grew up 109 miles from Memphis but I didn’t think 109 Miles From Memphis would make a good title for a record so I trimmed it down to 100 miles.
Now it was time for Sheryl to reach into her bag of hits and pull out a few older songs. “Can’t Cry Any More” was followed by “My Favorite Mistake” and “If It Makes You Happy.” Through most of these songs the audience was singing along to each and every word. I know I was. She asked the crowd if there was any man in the room that she hadn’t dated yet and broke into “Strong Enough.” During this song she sang “I want a man who’s not married”, “I want a man who makes more money that I do”, then she corrected her self and sang “I mean, I want a man who doesn’t spend as much money as I do”. The crowd roared. The band then broke into the familiar opening riffs of “Soak Up The Sun.” When she did this one on QVC I really didn’t like the new band on it. Maybe they hadn’t played it enough at that point but for these shows I thought the little dab of soul really sounded awesome.
Next Sheryl announced that she was going to do a song written by Terence Trent D’Arby. This song was “Sign My Name” which is also off the new album. She closed the regular set with the songs “Sideways” and “Eye To Eye” once again showcasing the sound of her new band The Thieves.
Sheryl spent the early days of her career doing jingles and singing backup vocals. One of the singers that she sung back up for was none other than Michael Jackson on his “Bad Tour.” She paid homage to the late singer by doing a song from the Jackson 5, “I Want You Back.” Her voice really sounds good on this one and is very close to the way Michael sounded back in the 70′s. This was one of my favorite parts of the show since I really like this one.
She followed “I Want You Back” with another one of her hits “Every Day Is A Winding Road.” They pulled out another new song after that, “Roses And Moonlight” and then broke into “All I Want To Do.” I love the line from this song, “Everybody gets high, everybody gets low” and I think the rest of the crowd did as well because once again they were singing along with Sheryl.
A big grand piano was pulled out onto the stage and Sheryl sit down behind it and delivered the last song of the night, “I Shall Believe” which is a very beautiful song from the “Detours” album from a few years ago.
I have to give these shows a 9.5 on the Concert Blast scale. The band was tight and sounded fantastic behind Sheryl’s strong voice. Even though I love the new songs I would like to have heard more of the older songs and that is why I am taking away the half a point.
I have been a fan of Sheryl Crow since her first album “Tuesday Night Music Club” came out years ago. She has had some highs and lows in her career. This summer has been a high for her. “100 Miles From Memphis” debuted at the number one spot when it was released and she has played all over the US this summer and is now in Europe bringing Memphis a little closer to those people. I am sure they will enjoy their visit.
Written by James Downing
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW
Tags: 10-01-2010, 100 Miles From Memphis, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Concert Tour, GA, Greatest Hits, James Downing, Memphis, Michael Jackson, Nashville, Ryman Auditorium, Sheryl Crow, Sheryl Crow Concert Review, Sly and the Family Stone, The Theives, TN