SHERYL CROW // ROYAL CONCERT HALL, GLASGOW
The nine time Grammy Award winner delivers a masterclass in songwriting with a high octane rock performance to boot.
Having recently opened shows for the likes of legendary artists Phil Collins and the Eagles, Sheryl Crow is grateful to be back in front of her own audience for a while. With the promise of a two-hour set featuring "a bunch of old things and...some new things too" regulars know to expect a great night. For first-timers the setlist, front heavy with mega hits like "If It Makes You Happy" and "All I Wanna Do", is a shock to the system and an assertive reminder of why Crow, now in her late 50s, has maintained a position as one of the most revered and sought-after songwriters and female vocalists for over 2 decades.
Her energy and enthusiasm is relentless and it's clear Crow still enjoys playing the older songs. The crowd reacts with lively call and response singalongs and dancing in the aisles. Crow acknowledges, engaging audience participation, for at least as much as she can understand of the Glasgow accent and vernacular. She shies away from recent albums for the most part but introduces a few tracks from her forthcoming release Threads, due at the end of August. The first of these is "Prove You Wrong", a collaboration with country star Maren Morris and rock veteran Stevie Nicks. It has an instant classic rock feel that tends a little formulaic towards the end but is no less enjoyable in the context of modern rock radio playlists. Another new single, "Live Wire", comes under the blues influence of its contributors Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples, and is introduced with a cracking anecdote from the recording session with Staples. As one of the slower songs in the set - and it's by no means a ballad - "Live Wire" is evidence that Crow still has the skill to craft a meaningful and catchy song without sounding like a rehash of former glories or a nostalgic tribute to the successes of youth.
Despite adhering mostly to the acoustic guitar throughout, Crow's knack for creating rock anthems is indisputable and well supported by her six-piece band that includes two lead guitarists of equal genius in Audley Freed and Peter Stroud; the latter garnering extra attention from the singer for his "snazzy jacket" in addition to his expertise with the six-string. The sound is further embellished with Joshua Grange on pedal steel, Jen Gunderman on piano and Robert Kearns providing bass and particularly stand out vocals as a substitute for Joe Walsh on new duet "Still The Good Old Days", a song that Crow admits is "about being my age". Yet the clarity and ease of her voice on the opening of "The Difficult Kind" shows an ageless strength and beauty; her voice is as good as it's ever been. Sadly, there are times when the full force of the band is too much and Crow's still-powerful vocal is overwhelmed, mainly by the treble of her own guitar. It's disappointing to experience this in a room like the Concert Hall which usually delivers perfectly balanced levels, for any genre or musical style. Nevertheless the crowd is on her side and she receives a standing ovation before she's even finished the set. Admittedly, the performance of "Best Of Times" is well deserving; Crow takes her microphone from its stand and commands the stage from end to end with multiple charged harmonica solos, set against intense strobing as the band gathers around the drum kit to pool and play off their collective energies.
The final song of the set, "Steve McQueen", features Crow playing a glittery red, white and blue electric guitar while her two sons - acting as occasional guitar techs throughout the night - join in on maracas from behind the keyboards. When she returns for an encore she mentions that they spent their day over at the Glasgow Science Centre and had a great time taking in the city. She dedicates "Soak Up The Sun" to her Glasgow audience in honour of the beautiful weather, before closing out with a grand rendition of "Real Gone". The crowd need no further persuasion and remain on their feet for the duration.
Warmly received at the top of the show is Hebridean singer-songwriter Colin MacLeod, himself no stranger to opening some pretty big stages, having supported the likes of Van Morrison, Robert Plant and Roger Waters in the last twelve months alone. He played a brief but beautiful solo set of melancholic-sounding songs, drawn mainly from his 2018 debut Bloodlines, with two new songs performed on acoustic guitar sandwiched into the middle of his set. MacLeod shows himself to be a versatile performer; an accomplished guitarist as well as a gifted storyteller and songwriter, with a voice as warm and mellow as a 21 year old single malt.
SETLIST: | SHERYL CROW : ROYAL CONCERT HALL, GLASGOW - 26.06.2019
Leaving Las Vegas
If It Makes You Happy
Everyday Is a Winding Road
All I Wanna Do
My Favourite Mistake
Can’t Cry Anymore
The First Cut Is The Deepest - (Cat Stevens cover)
It Don’t Hurt
Prove You Wrong
The Difficult Kind
There Goes the Neighborhood
Still the Good Old Days
Best of Times
Soak Up the Sun