She may be just 16 months shy of 50 but a front row of adoring middle-aged men who remain transfixed from the moment she struts on stage suggest Sheryl Crow is still considered every bit the rock chick she was in early ’90s.
It’s been two years since the nine-time Grammy winner played in the UK and tonight’s gig at the Hammersmith Apollo is the first of three scheduled in London this month.
Framed by an impressive eight-piece funk/soul band, she gyrates an athletic torso under a shiny disco ball to ’60s funk classic Dance To The Music before opening the set with Our Love Is Fading. Taken from her latest album 100 Miles From Memphis, it has all the trappings of a modern day Jackson Five hit and exemplifies the new direction Crow has taken with her latest offering.
The majority of the audience appear to be proud owners of the new album and are instantly on their feet and singing along. Others who have turned up expecting a medley of the rock/country hits for which Crow is known best, are not left disappointed however as the bassline kicks in for A Change Would Do You Good.
Rest assured the Missouri born singer-songwriter has not entirely sold her soul to funk and Motown and to prove it she unleashes the new reggae-infused Eye To Eye, co-written by The Rolling Stones‘ Keith Richards, followed by the album’s namesake 100 Miles From Memphis. Both tracks see the mother-of-two and former backing singer for Michael Jackson glide seamlessly from genre to genre while at the same time effortlessly hitting notes even the most amiable of music critics would attribute to the work of a good sound producer.
As she plucks hit after hit from an impressive back catalogue of seven studio albums, it’s evident that Crow is every bit as much the live performer as she is an accomplished recording artist.
During the full-on 90 minute set Crow allows little time for ballads aside from Strong Enough, which she performs on her trusted baby-blue Fender, and a sultry rendition of Terence Trent D’Arby’s Sign Your Name, which features on the new album.
Crow dabbles with bluegrass and openly questions America’s intervention in the Middle East before cradling her acoustic for Johnny Cash‘s Redemption Day.
A like-for-like performance of Sideways, by up-and-coming artist Citizen Cope, accompanied on grand piano, has the audience transfixed and adds a contemporary feel to the evening.
Seated members of the audience are up and dancing in the aisles for the 2002 hit Soak Up The Sun, which precedes a predictable encore that sees Crow return for her breakthrough 1993 hit, All I Wanna Do. Both mark the perfect end to a fluid and flawless set which reminds fans of Crow’s ability to pen lyrics and music that are as credible and current today as they were when first released.