Sheryl Crow @ M.E.N. Arena - Manchester, UK, June 22rd, 2004

By Rashid Razaq

THERE is something about Sheryl Crow that reminds you of watching TV in a three-star European hotel bar. Her folk-rock slice of Americana is so very VH1-friendly. So it was a surprise for such a successful artist to be playing to a half-full Arena last night.

She opened with the heavy-chord riffs of Steve McQueen, a tribute to the iconic film star from her most recent album C'mon, C'mon. But with a back catalogue stretching back to the early 90s, there were plenty of hits. The musical ability of the 40-something rocker and her band was spot on, but the poor acoustics did nothing for the quieter numbers.


Had the promoters thought more about the target audience and the type of show Crow gives, they may have looked for a smaller, more intimate venue that would have supported and nurtured to the songs more effectively. Instead, the sound boomed around the Arena's wide open spaces, but in the end Crow's entertaining performance overcame the shortcoming. Video favourites such as There Goes The Neighbourhood and My Favourite Mistake got the audience warmed up, but it was her cover of Cat Stevens' First Cut Is The Deepest that really kick-started things. Hit followed tub-thumping hit, with Crow even dedicating Strong Enough to the England football team, much to the crowd's delight. The more anthemic If It Makes You Happy and A Change even got the popcorn-munchers up from their seats. She built up to a finale with the anti-war Redemption and, like a seasoned pro, returned for two encores.

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Comments :

I have to agree with others - we were seated in Block 103 and we couldn't hear a word she said. The sound quality was completely dire - probably the reason nobody was dancing was that if you weren't in the standing area, you didn't know what she was going on about!
Maria McDade, Manchester
28/06/2004 at 11:44

I saw her at Shepherds Bush in London in Dec and felt that was a much better gig both soundwise and size wise! But, still a great night-wouldn't opt for reserved seating again though-why didn't anybody get up and dance????
Tracy, Wirral
25/06/2004 at 23:27

We started off in Block 115 at the side of the shed that IS the M.E.N. Realising pretty quicky on that the sound was bad and the Area empty at the back (which creates bad echo), we moved down on to the main arena floor. We had no trouble finding a great place to stand and we danced and sang along for a couple of hours with Sheryl, who is an awsome singer/songwriter and very sexy with it. I loved it, but agree that she would be better served by the Manchester Apollo for that "intimate" feel. Great Gig though. Luv Ya Shezza
Stuart, Huddersfield
25/06/2004 at 18:49

The sound was TERRIBLE!!! And the guys in charge did NOTHING about it(on my side of the arena?) until the 2nd to last song!? By that time, it was too little... far too late. I'm really annoyed that I was AT the gig and STILL missed the show.
Dave, Blackburn
25/06/2004 at 01:36

I agree that the quality of the sound was terrible : all drums and bass . This would have been fine for a rock band ; Cheryl Crow can do rock , obviously , but to have this for just about every number was a real shame . Was this choice , or just poor production . Also , she didn't seem particularly happy to be there . Apart from the obligatory Hello Mancheter You're Lookimg Great there was hardly anything from her to the audience , like what she's been doing the last couple of years , what projects she is working on .It was just Well I'll turn up , sing all the old hits ( badly) then finish . Oh , and thanks for the money . What a disappointment .
Jeff, Altrincham
24/06/2004 at 17:20

Being a fan of S. Crow i would have expected more of a 'show.' She cam e across as unfriendly and some one who clearly did not want to be on the stage. The atmosphere and sound was all wrong. I don't know if i'd go back to see her again. I even left before the show ended - and i wasn't the only one!
Jo, Manchester
24/06/2004 at 12:40

I was surprised to find myself among so many important people every other one gawping at mobile telephones every two minutes. Perhaps they were confused as to who came to see who? Crow was wonderful, and no stop for anything but guitar changes 2 hours flew. If you wern't there you missed out. I will drive next time, though. Missed my last tram to Alty. A plague of itchy bottom upon the rotters who, devise timetables so the last ride home leaves before the entertainment ends.
Philip Johnson, Northwich
24/06/2004 at 00:20

a very good polished performance only let down by a poorly mixed sound.the guitarist is an exceptional musician but his playing went virtually unheard.a bit of a loss for one of a rock bands main instruments.
David M oss, Preston Lancs
24/06/2004 at 00:13

I attended the concert from Scotland as it's been 5 long years since Sheryl Crow played north of the border. My only complaint was that the set was a little short at 1hr 40 mins after seeing Peter Gabriel play nearly 2hr 30 mins earlier this month. That said the quality of Sheryl and her bands performance were superb, as were the selection of songs which made the 500 miles round trip worth it. I just hope she remembers to play Scotland on her next visit to the UK.
John Watson, Callander, Scotland
23/06/2004 at 20:23

Have to agree that the half empty (half full??) venue did not do anything for the accoustics. Particularly disappointing was First Cut Is The Deepest, where the volume of the instruments far exceeded that of Sheryl and the other members of the group - don't know if this was down to the accoustics or the mixing desk! However, things did get better after this - very enjoyable evening.
Tony, Wigan
23/06/2004 at 19:23

The performance from Sheryl was 1st class as usuall, but the planning for the event was dissapointing. I saw her at shepards bush in london and the acoustics were tons better. We had a seating ticket and spent the entire show trying to find ways of jumping the barrier to get standing due to the poor set-up, the stage was so in the wrong place I felt like we were in a school assembly. Very dissapointed and I hope also it wont put sheryl off from returning, she also comented on the echo and ringing. Play the Apollo next time!
Richard, Huddersfield
23/06/2004 at 16:45

Not being a big Sheryl Crow fan i went along not really expecting to have a great night but she proved me wrong! From the second she stepped out on to the stage and started singing she was absolutly amazing and if she was on a second night i would be there again cheering her all the way!
Ady Hughes, Manchester
23/06/2004 at 16:28

thoroughly enjoyable night, shame about the half audience, i think maybe due to alicia keys playing at the apollo, sheryl was fantastic, maybe a smaller venue would have been better, she sounded great and i had a brilliant night.
emma, sale
23/06/2004 at 15:47

If the Natash Bedingfield crew can produce a clear sound, surely Sheryl's could? No disrespect intended to Natasha Bedingfield, but surely with the resources at Sheryl Crow's disposal it should have been possible to mix the sound so that the vocals could be heard.
Sabaca, Warrington
23/06/2004 at 14:39

I too was dissappointed that the arena was half full and hope that this does not deter Sheryl from returning to Manchester in the future. I thought she sounded great and there was a good mix of old and new hits and album tracks. I had a great night.
lesley percy, littleborough, lancs
23/06/2004 at 12:19


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