Beacon Theater, New York City, NY (USA) - March 17th, 1995

POP REVIEW; Sheryl Crow, With Conviction

Published: March 20, 1995

"I was a waitress not too long ago, and then I won a Grammy," Sheryl Crow said midway in her sold-out concert at the Beacon Theater on Friday evening. But in fact, the seemingly instant pop stardom that Ms. Crow has achieved with her album "Tuesday Night Music Club" (A&M) did not come instantly.

Friday's concert was the payoff after years of apprenticeship as a background vocalist and touring to promote her album, which won three Grammys. The performance reinforced the recorded impression of Ms. Crow as a vocal chameleon with a core of gritty emotional honesty. In some numbers, Ms. Crow's voice recalled the fluid, jazzy wail of Rickie Lee Jones. In others, she echoed the more grounded folk-blues of Bonnie Raitt. For big soul-flavored ballads, she unleashed a grainy rock cry reminiscent of Janis Joplin.

As varied as her influences are, they meshed in the raw conviction of her performances and in the point of view of her songs, the best of which are quirky down-to-earth monologues by restless working people with few illusions. The beer-guzzling narrator of her biggest hit, "All I Wanna Do," woozily observes a carwash outside the barroom window and muses, "All I wanna do is have a little fun before I die."

On Friday, Ms. Crow performed "All I Wanna Do" twice, the first time in an acoustic version, the second in a punchy folk-blues style.

The most remarkable thing about Ms. Crow's material is that the songs, which are credited to as many as six collaborators, all have a personal, idiosyncratic feel.

Where the arrangements on Ms. Crow's album stick mostly within folk-blues and soft-rock formats, the music on Friday had a much harder edge, with a current of psychedelic rock in the mode of Steppenwolf and Jefferson Airplane propelling the arrangements.

Ms. Crow's success suggests that the agglomeration of 60's and 70's folk, blues and gospel styles now known as classic rock has far from exhausted itself.