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Sheryl Crow Still Rockin!
By Graham Sauser
After rain all day, a break in the weather was greatly appreciated considering the venue for tonight’s show being mainly an outdoor music festival. I’m talking of course about one of Chicago’s most famous music venues, Ravinia. Situated about 25 miles north from the city, Ravinia is a unique mix indoor & outdoor, lawn and pavilion seating. Guests bring their own food and booze, or can get purchase on site from the restaurants and vendors that dot the lawn. After a day of rain, a sold out lawn was impressive, but the guests came for a good cause. Sheryl Crow.
A quick 15 min. break after the opening act and Sly & the family stone’s Dance to The Music began to play over the house PA, with a heavy bass urging you to move to the groove. On the dimly light stage you could faintly make out the drummer as he made his way to his kit. As if the song’s bass want thick enough it was soon complimented by a steady thwack of his bass drum. With a roar of applause Sheryl entered the stage clad in a tight white rhinestone- shirt and surprisingly modest jeans.
The band kicks right in with one of her newer songs from the Detours album. Sheryl starts by rocking out on a keyboard front and center. Proving her true musicianship; she switches instruments several times throughout the show, playing keys, acoustic and electric guitar, and even bass for several numbers.
She is accompanied by Peter Stroud her long time guitarist, together they create a great dynamic on stage. After belting out the first song the audience let out a roaring cheer as an official welcome, Sheryl gave everyone a big hello, and threw in a witty political comment as well. Nothing new to anyone familiar with Sheryl’s shows, and it wasn’t the only one that night. As the night went on she busted out all of her hits, each one just as tight as the next. When she strummed into to her classic “All I Wanna Do,” clarifying that “this isn’t LA, this is Ravinia!” the crowd showed its approval it with a roar. For the first time that night the entire audience rose to bask in Sheryl’s onstage energy. This rendition made it hard to not jump up and sing along, everyone in the pavilion was helping her sing the words.
This continued through a few more of her greatest hits to Steve McQueen, when the majority of the audience returned to their seats, except for a few diehard fans in the very front. The band transitioned the mood to a more serious tone by kicking off “Picture” Sheryl’s duet with Kid Rock, her bassist singing Kid’s part. It was a extremely touching and strong performance, one that I now prefer more than the album version. She continued with this trend through “If it Makes You Happy,” and with her homage to Cat Stevens with “The First Cut Is the Deepest.”
She closed her show with a huge thanks to the crowd, and a goodbye kiss, after leaving for a few moments her and the band returned for a two song encore.
Overall I would say her performance was very tight and seemed well rehersed. The band was all in perfect sync and the backup vocalists did a good job of harmonizing with Sheryl. It was definetly one of the best shows I have seen at Ravinia. She focused more on musicianship than the use of fancy effects. The lighting consisted of a very basic rig; colored floods, multicolor backdrop, a few strobes, and two video monitors that ran a live feed from several stage cameras. Not one pyrotechnic effect in sight. Which when considering today’s typical concert experience was a nice change of pace, it allowed for you to focus on the musician’s and their art. Not how much green was spent on sprucing up the performance. I personally thought it was a worthwhile show and recommend this tour to anyone looking to experience a good-old fashioned rock show that sticks to the basics.