The Riviera, Chicago, Illinois - March 13, 1997

Sheryl Crow & Dishwalla

Review by Stu Gotz for Entertainment Venue

Preface

Just let me start off by saying all you people who jetted before the encore… Boy did you miss something special!!! We'll come back to that later.

Is that a knife in your pocket or an ugly shirt?

Ms. Crow graced Chicago's Riviera Theater on a cold rainy March night. I know it was cold and it was rainy because I had to wait outside in the elements as the Riviera's security took the time to pat down each guest. As I froze my ass off waiting to get felt up I noticed the T-shirt booth. Yuck! I can't believe people actually bought the ugly merchandise offered by SC's promoters. From the $25 hat with cheesy green graphic to the $30 long sleeved hooded shirt with the same bad logo I couldn't somebody actually approved these horrible designs.

Well when I finally got felt up and past all the ugly merchandise, I was surprised to see the turn out for the show, not because this was the most packed I've ever seen the Riviera but because of the broad spectrum of people. There were kids as young as 6, bikers, dopers, yuppies, confused married suburbanites, and lesbians. I never imagined that Ms. Crow had suck broad appeal (no lesbian pun intended). OOPS… I left out one group of people. After sharing my thoughts about the audience with the Dude On The Right he added to it by saying "Yeah, and there's no fat people here either." How rude of him to make fun of the slenderly challenged. I say all you lard asses out there send him some hate mail.

On with the show…

Opening for Sheryl this night would be the up and coming alternative band Dishwalla. I thought this would be a fair mix and I was surprised when the audience gave them an overwhelming welcome to Chicago. I never knew they were so big here. During their 40ish minute set the band showed some stage personality but I wouldn't call it a commanding presence. That is to say they need to work on it before they could ever think of headlining a large stage of their own. After they sang their hit "Counting Blue Cars" the lead singer shared a story with the crowd that I'll attempt to recreate for you now. It went something like this:
So after a show this kid comes up to me and asks "is God male or Female?"

"Don't know. Probably a little of both" I replied

"Is God black or white?"
"Probably both."
"Is God Gay or Strait?"
"Probably both."
"Is God Michael Jackson?"

Well I, along with the entire crowd, laughed at the joke and enjoyed the rest of Dishwalla's performance. Because their set was tight, the audience loved them, and they showed some personality I give Dishwalla's performance TWO BIG THUMBS UP!

When I was time for Ms. Crow to hit the stage she did, in my opinion, a real smart thing. Sheryl opened her set with her current hit "If It makes You Happy." What better way to instill excitement in a crowd than to start them off with a song they knew and loved. This "smart set" trend continued throughout the night. Sheryl would do a hit then three to four lesser known tunes and then another hit. By doing this she kept the attention of the audience the entire night. During some of those "in-between hits" songs Sheryl would dance and spin around the stage like a little girl playing lip-synch in her bedroom as nobody watched. My point? She really looked like she was enjoying herself. She was enjoying herself so much that she felt confident enough to take a shot at the HUGE Walmart Corporation before singing the song that got her latest album banned at their stores. You go girl!

Two songs later I had a horrible Hee-Haw flash back when SC's percussionists dawned a wash board on his stomach for a song. I don't know the name of the song but I was scared by the fact that I liked it. Earlier in the night some other things struck me funny. For example, thoughts of Joan Osborne raced through my head as Sheryl sang "Run Baby." Not only because both women have beautiful voices with great range but also because they seem to be sharing the same hair stylist. Also, Sheryl, well my editor won't let me write what I really want to, but let's just say she looks good in tight pants. Hey, don't ask me where these weird thoughts come from. They just come to me.

About an hour and twenty minutes after she started, Sheryl sang what I'll call the "I Shall Believe" song and thanked her audience as she left the stage. I knew, as did most people, that there would be an encore set. None the less quite a few people left. Boy did you assholes miss out!!!

What a cool surprise!

There is no doubt in my mind that for those who stuck around were treated to the best encore set that I have ever witnessed! Sheryl Crow was in what could best be called the singing "zone." When she blew a line in "Strong Enough to be My Man" she just lightly chuckled and went on like a true pro. Then she invited The Wallflower's (who would play the Riviera the next night) keyboardist and lead singer to join her is what seemed to me a semi-unrehearsed jam set. Sheryl and Jacob Dylan shared a mic as they covered a slowed country-esk version of the Beatles' "She's Got A Ticket To Ride." I loved it and so did all those who stayed. I think some of the kiddies were lost about the song but they were captivated by the good looks of the young Mr. Dylan. The jam session continued with covers of "Not Fade Away" that had people dancing, "Pale Blue Eyes" that had lovers kissing, and "The Weight" ended it all. I could have stayed all night and I'm sure Sheryl, her band, and The Wallflowers would have liked to play some more too, but the night unfortunately did come to an end. Walking out everyone was buzzing about how great the show was. I too agree. The encore set was worth the price of admission alone.

I, Stu Gotz, with out a doubt, bestow upon Sheryl Crow and her band my highest rating for a live musical performance. That's right… Two HUGE Thumbs Up with an extra POPPING Appendage.

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