Bass Hall - Austin, Texas (USA) - June 22, 2006



For Sheryl Crow, if every day is a winding road, then she must find herself in the middle of one pretty much constantly. Few artists have courted the mainstream so effectively, and few have been so precise in their approach to allegedly casual song craft. Thursday night, at a full but hardly sold-out Bass Concert Hall, she found that double yellow line and stayed there the entire time.

Jack Ingram opened the show with a strong set of his rootsy country music, much of which seemed rooted as much in John Mellencamp's tradition as Hank Williams'. He closed the brief set with "Wherever You Are," his No. 1 country single, which, frankly, sounds like it would do just fine in the Americana and album rock formats as well.

You might recall that Crow was forced to cancel her Feb. 28 show after revealing she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She made occasional comments about both her health (Sheryl: "I feel great" Audience: "WOOOOO!") and allusions to her one-time romantic relationship with Lance Armstrong (Sheryl: "Austin's been so cool to me" Audience: "WOOOOO!!"), but she seemed in excellent shape, if very thin. She was joined by a five-piece band and a string section.

Opening with "Run Baby Run," she hit the hits ("My Favorite Mistake," "Strong Enough," "All I Wanna Do") and delivered the goods in a manner that is best as "enthused professionalism." "Good is Good" is a perfect song for our current state of moral reductionism ("good is good/ and bad is bad"). "Letter to God" projected notes to him on a backdrop. She gave a pro-tequila intro to "Leaving Las Vegas" that seemed to miss the song's point rather dramatically. She plowed into "Mississippi," the song Bob Dylan gave her, and Ingram joined her for "If It Makes You Happy." She found the middle of the road and hung out there, which is where everyone likes her to be.

—Joe Gross