Orpheum Theater - Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA) - June 16, 2006

Review: Survivor Sheryl Crow's gamble pays off at Orpheum

Jon Bream, Star Tribune
Last update: June 17, 2006 – 12:10 AM

Sheryl Crow held two trump cards. But the queen of (broken) hearts didn't need to play either one to win over a standing-room-only crowd Friday night at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.

It was an emotionally empowering but largely musically lifeless evening. She didn't need to talk about her bout with breast cancer, which had postponed this concert from March, or her breakup with Lance Armstrong, which postdated all the lovey-dovey songs on her latest CD, "Wildflower."

"We sure appreciate you hanging with us since we canceled the tour," she said after her second song at her fourth concert since she finished cancer treatment six weeks ago. "I feel so gooood."

The emotions were there whether it was tough-gal anthems or brooding reflections on relationships. But the two-hour performance suffered from a stifling musical sameness. Crow loves medium-tempo tunes. Occasionally, she downshifted into a ballad, but when she went up-tempo, it was rock for people who don't like to sweat.

"Real Gone," a tune from the new animated flick "Cars" that she and her band were performing live for the first time, was a full-tilt rocker. But only 12 or 13 people got up to dance. During "All I Wanna Do," her breakthrough 1994 hit that brought fans to their feet, Crow started talking in mid-song: "There's a party goin' on." You could have fooled me. "Where's the after-party?" she asked.

That would be her encore, I guess. Because she finally got into the party spirit on the bouncy "Soak Up the Sun." She even started dancing -- for the first time all night -- during the intro to "Everyday Is a Winding Road" and then she totally cut loose on Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll."

The best of the rest of the night were the new tunes from the introspective, acoustic-oriented "Wildflower," which brought a different texture and vibe to the program. "I Know Why" was a moody ballad about new beginnings (with Lance or without him?). "Dear God" was a dramatic departure, with hand-written lyrics blown up on the screen behind her and her hair blowin' in the wind (from an electric fan) as she danced Stevie Nicks style. And her current single, "Always on Your Side," was an effective piano ballad that evoked Elton John.

But the crowd came to hear the hits, and the 44-year-old Missouri native pleased her people with "Strong Enough" (underscored by country fiddle), the sing-along "The First Cut Is the Deepest" and the encouraging "A Change Would Do You Good," which she turned into a pro-peace plea.

"Leaving Las Vegas" was one hit that missed. "Any gamblers here tonight?" she asked before singing. "Any drinkers? Any strippers?" Well, this was one card shark who simply held onto her trump cards because her hand was, well, strong enough without them.

Jon Bream 612 673 1719

Source: Startribune.com