Tuesday 9 December 2003

Sheryl Crow at Shepherds Bush Empire

cover Last night we went and saw Sheryl Crow play at Shepherds Bush Empire. It's the first time I've ever been to that venue. Really good place. It's quite old and small and a bit delapitated like many London venues. However it makes for a very cosy atmosphere and the bar wasn't very crowded. The view from the comfy balcony seats was excellent and the acoustics were good. Best yet, it took less than an hour to get there and parking was straightforward. I'll watch out for more shows there.

The concert was excellent. I have all four of her main albums (can I still use that word?) so I know the songs well. She opened with Steve McQeen and then proceeded to play every good song she's done which is enough to last the two hours she played. Can't think of anything she missed. Ron Wood (Rolling Stones) joined her for one song in the middle of the concert and one of the encore songs. I'm not sure of the name of the encore song. I think it's "I'm Losing You" - cover of a 70's hit.

As for Sheryl, she wore a black leather mini skirt, tall black boots and a simple black top. Sexy. Looks younger than she is (born in '62). However, she's no great performer. She's very stiff on stage and seemed to take a while to warm up. She'd start dancing a little but would soon stop. She doesn't communicate with the crowd well. Her comments seem to be well rehearsed and forced. It left me with the strong impression that she doesn't enjoy performing. It's unfortunate 'cause she has great material and could easily work the crowd up better. It's a big contrast with Ron Wood who is obviously very relaxed and playful on stage.

Her playing is simple and she has a country twang.  She mostly played bass but she played a Telecaster and acoustic sometimes and finished on the piano. What she excels at is composition, collaboration and singing. Her voice is great. Didn't realise until I checked her bio that she got her break by being a backup singer for various big names including Michael Jackson.

The stage was very simple and the visuals basic and unoriginal in my opinion. No big deal as that keeps you focused on the performers. The four other members of her band are excellent.  I forgot the name of the warm-up band already (Clarkville?). They were ok but I got a bit bored with their set.

I've heard that Sheryl Crow got pretty burnt out with the music industry and struggled with the last album. I was surprised to see a "Very Best Of" album come out as that usually means the record company is milking the song catalogue and the artist is on the wane. Too bad. I hope she manages to find some enthusiasm for the music again and comes back to London with some more great tunes.

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