NOKIA THEATER - Grand Praire, Texas (USA) - June 20, 2006

Strong rebound Crow's better than ever since surgery
Star-Telegram staff writer

GRAND PRAIRIE -- In case you were worried about how she is doing just a few months after breast-cancer surgery, Sheryl Crow has good news.

"I've never felt better," the 44-year-old singer said just before starting Good Is Good, the fourth song of her concert last night at Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie.

She's also never sounded better or looked better.

Playing her hits, as well as a number of songs from her latest CD, last year's Wildflower, Crow sang with power and clarity while feeding the crowd occasional updates on the score of the Mavericks game. Crow has been touring for years, but this was her most satisfying performance yet in terms of pacing, the easy rapport she had with the crowd and the punch of her band (although her four string players were often inaudible).

Rather than start with an uptempo song as most rock bands do, Crow began with a change-up, the slow soul of Run, Baby, Run. It was a bit of a risk, and it worked: Singing without an instrument (which she now does more often than before), Crow offered a bit of catharsis before kicking into the chunky rock of Hard to Make a Stand. Another early highlight was Maybe Angels, which Crow said was "about UFOs."Wildflower is not Crow's strongest work, but give her credit, she does an excellent job of picking songs from it: Good Is Good went down well, and the next song, Letter to God, was given added emphasis by a special effect: On the screens behind Crow and the band, short messages of spiritual need, such as "Dear God, Please don't

leave me" were displayed as the song progressed. It was a simple special effect, but powerful, and it helped to bring home the difficulties Crow has had recently.

These songs, and a few other new ones, did not slow the pace or the crowd's excitement, and when it was time for Crow to deliver a big hit, such as My Favorite Mistake or her cover of Cat Stevens' The First Cut Is the Deepest, she followed through, outrunning the recorded originals every time.

Texan Jack Ingram started the evening with a 35-minute set. A former Southern Methodist University psychology student, Ingram has been kicking around local and state honky-tonks for years, and he's recently gone national with a huge hit, Wherever You Are.

Ingram did a hearty version of that song and five others, and although local fans may have enjoyed his music more when it was less rock and more country (remember when he used to play the Aardvark?), he sang well and looked at ease in the big venue.