Review by Liz (ScoutTheDog)
The skies in NYC have been saturated with rain for the past few days and the outlook for an outdoor show was bleak. But, since Sheryl has connections at the Weather Channel, she was able to pull this off (guess it paid to promote them on the last record, huh?)
It turned out to be a beautiful night at Jones Beach - perfect for a concert. Absolutely perfect. Arriving at 7:40pm, my guest and I just missed the opener Mat Kearney. John Mayer took the stage at 8pm, but we weren't ready to go in. While the crowds were inside it was a great time to check out the merchandise. So, we strolled around the premises for a bit. Now, we immediately knew that this wasn't the typical Sheryl crowd, 'cause nobody recognized who I was with - Mr. Moderator, himself, in the flesh on Long Island.
Gregg and I first noticed that Sheryl's merchandise was improved. Toned down since the C'Mon C'Mon tour - simpler designs, more subtle earth tones - there was more of a "coolness" factor. They are also selling a Sheryl tour poster which I liked - reminded me of the glow in the dark vintage posters from the early 70's, with an artistic drawing of Sheryl in the center. It can be yours for $25.
We watched John Mayer's first few numbers from the picnic tables on the big projection screen, while consuming our $8 chicken sandwiches (imagine one chicken sandwich, fries and water at a beach for $19 - unbelievable). To be honest, John's opening numbers were a bit mellow, so we were in no rush to go in. We just mellowed out and ate our gourmet fast food. By 8:25, we decided to enter the venue and check John out.
OK, I can't believe I just typed that - but the first thing you notice about John is that he is just really cute. And, he seems to be the kind of guy that women want to be with and guys want to be. That's hard to pull off. He's also got a really diverse fanbase - some much older than I expected. And, everyone around us were John fans - the entire center of the orchestra (thanks to the Mayer presale). Nice people though - not "shitty" fans as some others have suggested.
I enjoyed John's set very much. He's got a groove going on there that is very catchy - not blues, but funk. Really good band, too. The cool breeze, the funk, the lips (and yes, Katie, the hair)...I was diggin' it. Rock on, John.
By 9:20pm, John ended his part of the show and it was time for the roadies to do their magic. Watching the two crews of Sheryl and John coordinate this transition without collision is quite impressive. Within ten minutes, a group of musicians quietly came onto the stage to tune up - none other than Lorenza and her posse. With the lights up and Lorenza within 50 feet, we had to get her attention. After a few shouts from Robert, who we found sitting near us, Lorenza looked up and saw us, which immediately brought a big smile to her face. She stood up and started waving back - pointing to her NY fan posse. It's been a long time, L - nice to have you back. :)
At exactly 9:45pm, Sheryl took the stage. She looks wonderful. 44 years old, breast cancer survivor, the Lance breakup - actually, she looks friggin' amazing. Most of us would look and feel like total shit at this point. Her stamina and fortitude is truly remarkable. And, not only did she look good, but she was ON. This was going to be just a 75 minute set, but she was going to make the most of it.
The standout for me tonight, was Home. Excellent, excellent, soulful version - great vocals by Sheryl and some great guitar work by Peter Stroud. Good is Good done acoustic was a treat - haven't heard that before. Sheryl even whipped out some Gordon Lightfoot in Strong Enough, which I haven't heard her do since the Mohegan Sun show a few years ago. And, while I remarked yesterday that I was surprised that Sheryl wasn't dueting with John, she shut me up quickly by bringing him out for TWO numbers - My Favorite Mistake and Steve Miller's Jetliner, which was fun. John didn't sing, but added some nice guitar work to both songs. The crowd really enjoyed this - a definite benefit of having a double bill.
While I couldn't hear the strings for most of the night (they really need a boost), they shined on Wildflower. Gregg and I paid close attention to the political references during Redemption Day and Wildflower, which I have to say, after reading some of the posts over the past few days, is much ado about nothing. The video screen simply projected famous quotes by leaders of our time, like Ghandi. Primarily quotes about peace. This same display has been used for a couple of years - no surprises here.
Sheryl's grandest political statement was, after mentioning her trip to Bosnia and then watching the horrors in Rwanda on TV, is that she wonders why we send troops to some places, but not to others. Hopefully, all Americans should think about this carefully. I question every day why the majority of our troops are in Iraq, while the majority of Bin Laden's people are in Afghanistan. I wonder what would happen if something started in North Korea - could we afford two major conflicts? She's just putting something on the table for you to contemplate. I think the New York crowd did that. The venue was quiet. It was a solemn moment.
The quiet did not last for long, however, because Sheryl rolled out the big guns for the end of the show. When Sheryl began Soak, the entire crowd was on their feet. All the John Mayer fans were dancing. Lots of dance moves by Sheryl during Winding Road and she even comically posed for photos while she worked the stage (and she worked it from end-to-end tonight). To the amusement of this fan, Sheryl did some major boob shimmeying in the direction of Mr. Moderator during Winding Road, which even made her laugh when she realized that she doesn't really have big jugs to work with. Again, her sense of humor shined because I think all that boob shaking hurt a little bit, given she just went through 5 weeks of radiation. She made a little comment about this, but I couldn't really make all of it out.
It was simply a beautiful night at Jones Beach, Sheryl was giving it her all and everyone was enjoying it. I think she even made some new fans from the Mayer crowd.
If I had one true complaint for the entire evening, it was directed at the venue itself. They pulled the rug from under Sheryl at the height of the show. At the end of Winding Road, Sheryl and the band left the stage for their regular encore preparation. Lorenza and the strings were waiting in the wings, Scooter was there...in a few seconds, Sheryl would be returning to the stage for the encore, or at least the band's traditional curtain call and bow. But, without warning THE LIGHTS CAME ON. Jones Beach ended the show. BUH BYE.
If you could see the look on the faces of Sheryl's team, you wouldn't believe it. No encore - not even the opportunity for the band to wave goodbye to the crowd. It was over. Total disbelief in the Crow camp - and likely disappointment, 'cause it really looked like they were having a great time up there and wanted just another couple of minutes. Fussy walked out and gave an evil stare up to the control tower, as it was apparent that this was done without their consent or consultation. Scooter looked shocked. My watch said 10:55, Robert's said 10:59...apparently the guy at the switch in the control tower had the 11pm trigger finger. Sheryl was probably changing her clothes and didn't even know immediately what happened. With the lights up and the crowd believing it was over, there was nothing else that could be done. Jones Beach ended a truly terrific evening on an odd note. But, it was a terrific night nonetheless. Thank you Sheryl & Co.
BTW - Given that everyone in the front rows were apparently Mayer fans, they were oblivious to all of the picks that Sheryl tossed at the end of Winding Road. Gregg, Robert and I just walked up to the front row after the crowd cleared and casually picked up all the picks. Unheard of at a Crow show. Got a nice new datestamped 2006 Wildflower Sheryl pick and Rob picked up a rare Peter Stroud "65" pick (him Amp Company). Hadn't seen either of these before.