If it makes you happy, Sheryl Crow is down to play her hits all night long.
At a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday night, Crow teased songs off her upcoming album, "Be Myself," and reminded a rapt audience just how many massive hits she has in her back catalog.
For a bonafide star like Crow, the Bowery Ballroom is a tiny venue, much smaller than the Beacon Theatre, which Crow will play in June as part of the "Be Myself" tour.
The gig's intimacy meant Crow had no place to hide. That vulnerability and the up-close-and-personal nature of the evening was a treat for hardcore fans packing the room.
Crow opened the show with high-energy performances of "Everyday Is a Winding Road," "A Change Will Do You Good," "All I Wanna Do" and "My Favorite Mistake."
Her first words to the crowd?
"My life does not suck."
With that, Crow launched into the title track from her new record, which fits right in with the classic ’90s sound that propelled her to worldwide domination and massive commercial success.
Rocking a bass and giving off major McCartney vibes, Crow began the song with the very-Sheryl-Crow lyrics, "Saw my shrink today/ He said girl I can't help you." The chorus is engineered to instantly get stuck in your head, like all the best Sheryl Crow songs: "If I can't be someone else I might as well be myself."
Crow seemed to understand that most of the audience was not there to hear songs off of "Be Myself," which drops Friday. Instead, she tastefully threaded in new material between crowd-pleasers.
The new album, which features "a bunch of songs" that Crow "barfed out" back in August, explores the songwriter's relationship with social media.
"As young as I feel, I feel like a total dinosaur when it comes to 'tap, tap, tap' and likes and dislikes and (snores)," Crow shared.
It was a perfect segue into "Alone In The Dark," the new album's opening track. The "darkness" in the song is a nod to unplugging and going dark on your devices.
For Crow's seminal Cat Stevens cover, "The First Cut Is the Deepest," Crow had the crowd less singing along, and more emotionally shouting along (tequila and white wine were flowing at the pre-show happy hour downstairs).
She also paid tribute to music legends we recently lost, and the effect those deaths had on her songwriting.
"Last summer sucked. Prince died and that totally took the wind out of my sails," Crow said.
But Prince and David Bowie's deaths were compounded by a year of "hate rhetoric."
"The people that are supposed to be the best of us are acting so ugly," she said.
It was all an introduction for "Grow Up," a song that Crow said was dedicated to Prince because he never seemed to lose his innocence. Perhaps unintentionally, the song also showcased how gracefully Crow, who turned 55 this year, has aged.
After a raucous "There Goes the Neighborhood," Crow quipped, "That's just clean, family entertainment."
The evening peaked emotionally with a bewitching "The Difficult Kind."
She introduced "If It Makes You Happy" as the second-most popular karaoke song of all time, and closed the set with possibly the guiltiest of pop pleasures, "Soak Up the Sun," before a three-song encore.
If you closed your eyes at any point during the evening, you could've been back in the ’90s, when Crow was the reigning queen of radio.
But Wednesday night was no shallow nostalgia trip.
It was a reminder that Sheryl Crow's never left and she's here to stay.
Everyday Is a Winding Road
A Change Would Do You Good / All I Wanna Do
My Favorite Mistake
Long Way Back
Alone In The Dark
Can't Cry Anymore
The First Cut Is the Deepest (Cat Stevens cover)
There Goes the Neighborhood
Leaving Las Vegas
Rest Of Me
The Difficult Kind
Best of Times
Picture / If It Makes You Happy
Soak Up the Sun