Sheryl Crow delivers stellar performance at the Wang

A review of Sheryl Crow at the Citi Wang Theatre on September 23, 2010

, Managing Editor

As a celebrated singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and genre-bending artist, Sheryl Crow doesn’t need any help putting on a stellar show, but she got it anyway at her recent stop at Boston’s Citi Wang Theatre. Touring in support of her new album, 100 Miles From Memphis, Crow has quite the gang in tow as she gathered a new band to back her on the soul vibe record. Crow and co. fittingly took the stage to some Sly & The Family Stone, as the 10-member band appeared big enough to be a family.

The band obviously wanted to kick things off in grand fashion as duel drummers bashed a segue from Sly Stone into Crow’s own “Our Love is Fading”. With horns blaring and the rest of the band firing on all cylinders, the sound was almost too big as Crow’s vocals were lost in the mix. Luckily, the group settled in quickly as the second number, “A Change Will Do You Good” ushered in a night of excellent resonance.

Crow put together a finely balanced set that featured several genres and a mix of tempos. While most of the singer’s new material features a danceable R&B sound, it was the more familiar tunes of her hit-filled catalogue like “Everyday Is A Winding Road” and “Soak Up the Sun” that got fans out of their seats.

The show as a whole was quite lively, but there were some tender moments as well. Crow got help from show opener Brandi Carlile as they dueted on “If It Makes You Happy” and got some assistance from some free-spirited fans making “Strong Enough” the most touching moment of the evening. As Crow began the ballad a couple sitting up front left there seats and engaged in a loving slowdance which quickly caught the star’s attention as she paused and proclaimed, “I wanna be like that in a few years!”.

Still, Crow and company laid the R&B theme on thick. Aside from the funky new tunes, the group also spiced up some of Crow’s older tracks. “My Favorite Mistake” featured a soul-like organ solo and later the singer would let her backups take the spotlight as they shared a snippet of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” during “All I Wanna Do”. Crow, once a backup herself, lit up the encore with an astounding rendition of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”. Crow did her former employer justice as she hit all of MJ’s notes, while her band filled in amicably for the rest of the J5.

Sheryl Crow has always been a bit of a renaissance woman, from her range of musical genres, to acting, writing, and activism. After a stimulating set, it’s clear that Crow can add her new album to her list of accomplishments.

Brandi Carlile set the tone for the energetic evening with a beautifully balanced set of her own. It’s widely known how pleasing Carlile’s vocals are, but she also proved just how much power she has behind them as she and her band played the country-flavored “Dying Day” completely unplugged (not just acoustic, but without amplification). When they did plug back in it was time to rock as Carlile and her band got people on their feet early with a dynamic tribute to Johnny Cash with “Jackson” and “Folsom Prison Blues” easily winning the audience’s favor.

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