Fox Theater, Detroit, Michigan - March 11, 1997

Crow stirs up a storm in Detroit
By Bryan Lark
Daily Film Editor

You're a three-time Grammy winning singer-songwriter whose debut album sold over six million copies. Your second, self-titled album was released six months ago and had since gone nearly triple platinum. Three weeks ago, that album won two more Grammys. So what do you do now?

If you're Sheryl Crow, you hit the road once again to perform a series of sold-out, kick-ass shows in small theaters, the latest of which was Tuesday night (conveniently enough) at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

Playing the Fox Theatre, with its gargantuan auditorium and gaudy, over-the-top decoration, is a feat only the most vibrant and magnetic of performers can pull, and Crow performed the task with ease and plenty of noise.

Crow kicked off the show with a rousing rendition of the grinding rocker "Hard To Make A Stand," which is probably the only song in history to delve into the psyche of a middle-aged transvestite and still be danceable.

From that auspicious opener, Crow and her loyal band of guitarists and percussionists segued into a bongo-heavy performance of her current hit single "Everyday Is A Winding Road."

The sole woman in the group, Crow's black tank top, tight brown pants and girl-next-door demeanor was decidedly more Woodstock '94, than the Vivian Westwood persona she's been inhabiting lately.

The set also reflected such simplicity and comfort, consisting only of white curtains, three area rugs, innumerable instruments and extensive lighting equipment.

That stripped-down feeling exuded by her behavior and surroundings is definitely indicative of where Sheryl Crow has been headed recently. With her latest self-produced record, Crow aimed for a more low-fi, high-quality, one-woman edginess that was absent on her collaborative and polished debut, "Tuesday Night Music Club."

Her aims for quality and edginess have apparently paid off, judging by her engaging and often disquieting versions of such new songs as the alien-inspired churner "Maybe Angels"; the heartfelt anthem "Redemption Day," written during her trip to Bosnia; the heartbreaking wife's tale "Home"; and the pissed-off rant against someone and/or everyone "A Change."

Enhancing her newfound musical prowess was her onstage banter, which alternated from the serious (her accounts of war-torn Bosnia), to the humorous (her good-natured chides of rhythmless audience members), to the outrageous (dedicating a brisk version of "Leaving Las Vegas," "... to all you strippers out there ...," and proceeding to do a mock-burlesque number).

In addition to her aspirations of being Courtney Love, Crow exuded more than her fair share of sexuality, whether desperately belting out the theme song of sexually troubled women, "Run, Baby, Run," or coyly sashaying and playing the maracas to the innuendo-filled "Na Na Song."

Crow's down-home sex appeal leaked into most of her numbers, which made a pleasurable concert all the more enjoyable - Crow even makes playing the accordion, during a quiet rendering of her top 10 hit "Strong Enough," look sexy.

However, sex was not the only thing Crow had to offer. She offered the thousands of screaming fans something substantial to scream about - a toe-tapping, booty-slapping, hand-clapping good time, courtesy of the performance of her signature songs.

From her debut, "All I Wanna Do" was the catchy little ditty that put Sheryl Crow on the map and she re-created it again with a fresh and much less annoying rendition of the arguably overplayed song.

Reestablishing her presence in the music industry, the hit "If It Makes You Happy" has become somewhat of an anti-male, you-should-know-what's-good-for-you anthem, replete on Tuesday with lyric-screaming, finger-pointing and a faster pace.

The female audience members did calm down long enough to break down in tears with Crow's affecting performance of the poignant "I Shall Believe."

Returning for one encore, Crow closed off the remarkable set of her best songs with a country-fried cover of the soul classic "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," which allowed Crow to showcase the true extent of her post-Pavarotti duet vocal talents only hinted at on her two albums.

Performing hits, album tracks and covers with sexual flair and musical virtuosity, Crow made a huge crowd of Detroiters at the Fox very happy for two hours and, in her own words, "that can't be that bad."