Whitney Hall @ Kentucky Center - Louisville, Kentucky (USA) - August 2nd, 2003

By Jeffrey Lee Puckett

Sheryl Crow drew a crowd that included soccer moms to last night's performance at Whitney Hall in The Kentucky Center.

Sheryl Crow is a pro who delivers a show more polished than hot-rod chrome and yet hasn't forgotten how to have a little fun. For all of her inconsistencies, both artistically and philosophically, she still comes across at the end of the day like a rock star with enough sense to not always act like one.

It's an appealing combination, and one reason she so effortlessly sold out last night's performance at Whitney Hall in The Kentucky Center. It was one of the few times you'll see soccer moms pacing Main Street holding signs written with their grade-schoolers' crayons reading, "Need tickets!"

At this stage in her career, 10 years gone and several million albums sold, Crow commands a good-sized core following and enough hits to keep them happy.

Last night's set was strongly paced and ripe with singles, everything from her first hit (1992's "Leaving Las Vegas" to her latest, "Soak Up the Sun" and "You're An Original"). She cannily used the power of familiarity to keep the crowd firmly on her side and always standing, except for the occasional and well-placed ballad.

Crow's extremely tight band didn't hurt, giving energy to songs such as "Steve McQueen" and "A Change Will Do You Good" a firm push while backing down just enough on darker pop such as "If It Makes You Happy," one of her best songs and a highlight.

And those who skipped last night but saw Crow on her last trip here, a bourbon-fueled birthday party at the Louisville Palace that ended with her prone and wasted, should know that she remained sober and upright, at least while on stage.

Opener Joe Firstman, whose full-length debut album comes out in two weeks, made a big impression on fans who were clearly there only for Crow.

A big, amiable baby-faced killer, Firstman led a strong band through a set of songs that recalled the heyday of Southern California singer-songwriters. There were echoes of early Jackson Browne and even Warren Zevon, although Firstman wasn't as earnest as Browne and didn't boast Zevon's sharp-tongued irreverence. There was also a little Counting Crows tossed in, but without the overblown poetry. Firstman likes a more direct approach, which was reinforced by a band that went at it like a miniature version of the E-Street Band, going hard when it had to and soft when it needed to be.

Firstman performed songs from both his EP, "Wives Tales," and the upcoming "The War of Women." The big rock songs rode his piano playing and enthusiasm while ballads revealed a young man — he's 23 — who has already learned that a little humor not only soothes the melodrama but enhances its effects.

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Source : http://www.louisvillescene.com/

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