Avery Fisher Hall, Manhattan, NY, NY (USA) - Oct 30th, 2005

Crow Hasn't Lost Her Touch

BY RAFER GUZMÁN
STAFF WRITER

November 2, 2005

As Sheryl Crow switched from guitar to piano to bass Sunday night, it was easy to ignore the numerous roadies hustling on and off the stage - until one of them gave her not only a guitar but an affectionate kiss.

Why, that was no roadie, but Lance Armstrong, the champion cyclist and Crow's beau. The two had taken over "Saturday Night Live" the previous evening, with her as musical guest and him as host. "My fiance the ack-tor," Crow said with a loving roll of the eyes.

It was a homey, casual concert, despite Crow's wedding-style white dress, a four-piece band and a 16-member orchestra led by David Campbell, who arranged the lush, evocative strings on nearly all of Crow's latest album, "Wildflower" (A&M). Crow chatted with her audience frequently, explaining songs, narrating little stories (including one about Bob Dylan, whose voice she mimicked rather well) and poking fun at herself. After flubbing the chorus on "My Favorite Mistake," she waved the band to a halt.

"Let's try that again," she said, laughing. "We're all family here, right?"

Crow, 43, has reached that point in her career where connecting with old fans is more important than chasing new ones. She's still capable of producing hits: In recent years she's kept herself on the charts with "Picture" (an unlikely duet with Kid Rock) and a couple of singles, "Soak Up the Sun" and the Grammy-winning "Steve McQueen," from her 2002 album "C'mon C'mon." But the radio-conquering days of "Leaving Las Vegas" are probably behind her.

With "Wildflower," Crow is settling into her role as a singer-songwriter, as opposed to the sexy pop-rocker. The album is thoughtful and occasionally somber. You won't hear good-time hip-shakers like "All I Wanna Do." Instead, there's the ode to denial "I Don't Wanna Know." Even the upbeat "Live It Up" seems a little sobering on close listen: "Live it up/Like there's no time left/And there's no time to kill."

Not that Crow's concert was a bummer. She began with "Run Baby Run," unleashing a powerful voice that would shame pop divas half her age. And Crow's new songs sounded like old favorites, partly because they borrowed from familiar sources. "I Know Why" began with moody folk chords a la Neil Young; the anti-war tune "Where Has All the Love Gone" featured dipping guitar lines like George Harrison's; and "Always on Your Side," during which Crow played piano, was a dead ringer for an Elton John production. (She closed the show with his sprawling "Levon.")

For her encore, Crow appeared in a more familiar outfit - a black corset and fashionably ratty jeans - and ran through a chugging version of "Every Day Is a Winding Road." It was Crow's way of seeing whether she's still got it, and indeed she does.

SHERYL CROW. Something old, something new. Seen Sunday at Avery Fisher Hall, Manhattan.

Source : newsday.com

a