Review of Sheryl Crow: Live
Sheryl Crow: Live

Reviewed by R. David Smola



heryl Crow is a consummate professional. She knows how to write a great pop/rock song, knows how to deliver a cover, and knows how to play a whole bunch of instruments. This performance catches her delivering a greatest hits set against a backdrop of sharp red, orange, blue and black colors, the beautiful trademark visual presentation of the SoundStage product. Most of the tracks are delivered with precision and match the tone, tempo and arrangements of the original recordings, with a wrinkle thrown in here and there to keep it interesting for her and her (very talented) band; for example, “Leaving Las Vegas” is a little bluesier than its original Tuesday Night Music Club incarnation, and “Strong Enough”features some country-flavored slide guitar work.

And, of course, Crow looks terrific as she approaches her late 40s. She’s proved over her career that she isn’t a good-looking woman who was made into a rock star; instead, she’s an incredibly talented songwriter/musician/singer who happens to be drop dead beautiful. Her voice is not as powerful as someone like Pat Benatar or Martina McBride, but her vocals are perfect for the songs she writes. She has fabulous pitch and perfect phrasing, and when she needs to let it rip, she can pull it off, but power is not her calling card. When she sings the chorus of “Sweet Rosalyn,” she presents the edge of her range. The arrangement for the track features some great slide work from Shawn Pelton and some chunky keyboard from Mike Rowe. The song is a bit more muscular then when it appeared on Crow’s 1996 self-titled release. She is over the edge of her range during “Safe and Sound,” but that makes her performance incredibly effective, as it reflects the intense emotional terrain of the lyrics. Her voice sounds the fullest and best when blasting out the chorus for “If It Makes You Happy.”

Crow comfortably and competently switches between acoustic, electric and bass guitar (and takes the piano for “Safe and Sound”), and appears to enjoy each. She’s really laid back, so she isn’t going to be running around the stage doing David Lee Roth jumping karate splits during the show – though you’ll get to see an occasional million-dollar smile and a coy look or two. And she busts out some very short and modest dance moves during “Every Day Is a Winding Road,” to which she quips that she “needs a choreographer like everyone else.” The songs and the musicianship take precedence over everything else.

Crow certainly lets her political opinions heard with a spirited version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding” (famously covered by Elvis Costello) and the rarity“Let’s Get Free.” This is a much better live document of her work then the absolutely dreadful Live from Central Park, which was shockingly flat and disjointed.  This is a fabulous presentation of an artist who looks comfortable (and fabulous, by the way) in her own skin and among her greatest hits.

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