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Make Rock Great Again Tour with Melissa Etheridge
The Trusts Arena
Auckland, New Zealand
Monday, 9 April 2018
By Sarah Kidd
Taking to the stage first with a full six piece band and a pair of black and silver striped pants that she must surely have been sewn into, Sheryl Crow shone with the radiance of a diamond from the moment she stepped up to the microphone. Commencing her set with one of her most recognisable tracks ‘Every Day Is A Winding Road’ (the original 1996 recorded version featuring backing vocals from our very own Neil Finn) Crow immediately stamped her name on the room, her voice sounding just as good (if not better!) than it always has.
“Auckland, New Zealand – what the heck! It’s been such a long time!” Crow beamed a smile at the audience as her gorgeous Missouri accent melted like butter in our ears. Promising to play both the old and some new, Crow and her accompanying band wasted no time in kicking straight into ‘A Change Will Do You Good’ the wonderfully rhythmical nature of the song seeing the fully seated audience nod both their heads and tap their toes simultaneously while a few braver fans attempted to dance in the isle before the rather overly dutiful security guards moved them firmly back in front of their chairs. Taking to the mic once again Crow – who certainly does not look her fifty-six years – enquired of the audience, “Is there anyone here as old as me?” Laughing as several hands shot up into the air, she continued on to point out that while the wonderful stage lights washed out any lines on her face, they were indeed there, but she liked them; to her they represented all of the trauma she had gone through and come out the other side of, the fairer sex present in the arena tonight cheering widely at her self-empowering sentiments.
Certainly Crow almost did appear ageless on stage, both her vocals and energy levels having lost nothing over the last twenty years; a fact that was even more impressive when she was joined on stage briefly by her youngest “guitar techs”, her sons Wyatt and Levi. Speaking of how as a family they spent the previous day on Waiheke Island, Crow went on to compliment New Zealand by stating that she brought her children with her to “show them what life should be like” our love for the environment something that she greatly admires. Of course like any currently touring American musician, Trump was mentioned, but only briefly as she humorously collapsed on the floor stating it was due to the relief of not having to hear about him every day when she travels to our side of the world.
Indeed New Zealand and its inhabitants hold a treasured place in her heart, Crow having first toured with Crowded House when beginning her career, her nod to this fact not only in her conversations with the audience but in the form of the title line from ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ being lovingly placed into the ending of ‘Can’t Cry Anymore’. One thing that was clearly evident throughout the night is that Crow knows how to connect with her audience, from the casual colloquy down to the personal interaction with star struck individuals, Crow and co made an arena sized show feel far more like an intimate setting, drawing the audience into their world; it was as if watching some old friends have a jam session, the relationship between Crow and her band mates one of ease. Flanked by both Audley Freed of the bands Cry of Love, The Black Crowes and Trigger Happy and the wonderful Peter Stroud, Crows bandmaster and long-time friend, the musicality of her songs was taken to another level. From her stunning cover of the Cat Stevens classic ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ to the funky bass undertones of ‘Halfway There’ from her latest album Be Myself Crow captivated the audience and brought a luminosity to the room. This light that radiated from within only intensified as she moved into the finale of her set, timeless tracks such as ‘If It Makes You Happy’ and ‘Soak Up the Sun’ seeing handfuls of fans abandon their seats and join her in song.
“Auckland, I love you. You are lovely and beautiful” Crow once again told the audience before going on to thank Melissa Etheridge for inviting her on tour; an anticipated duet was of course delivered, Etheridge joining Crow on stage for a cover of The Allman Brothers track ‘Midnight Rider’ their voices harmonizing extremely well; the perfect balance between light and dark.
Sadly Sheryl Crow’s fans were not given the chance to call for an encore as both the house lights and music came up the second the last band member had left the stage.
The curtained off arena was just over half full as Crow’s six-piece band took over the stage. Then Crow herself strutted out sparkling in sequins with a guitar slung over her back and her country-pop style was right at home out west.
After opening proceedings with a pumping extended jam of Everyday is a Winding Road, Crow yelled out, “It’s been way too long!” Ten years in fact, which is crazy considering her Kiwi connections.
One of her most “glorious moments” was her first real tour supporting Crowded House. Her fondness for mate Neil and the band was evident during Can’t Cry Anymorewhere she briefly broke into Don’t Dream it’s Over.
The similarly-aged audience appreciated her genuine concert chat, hoots of approval as Crow said she loved the lines on her face, “that represent all the different traumas I’ve gone through, and come out the other side.” Before playing the smash hit that launched her career All I Wanna Do.
And fun was surely had as she pumped out the hits from Tuesday Night Music Club and her self-titled follow-up. There was a beautiful cover of Cat Stevens’s The First Cut is the Deepestand the cutest touch when her two adopted boys brought out a guitar.
She loved getting away from news about Trump – who got a roasting from both lefty musicians – saying it could only get better. Otherwise she was seriously thinking about “getting a real estate agent.”
It wasn’t just banter she was nailing either, there was some serious musicianship on display as Crow played guitar, keyboard and even cranked out the harmonica for The Best of Times. A honkytonk blast that showed off some serious skill.
Then the crowd were up on their feet for a giant sing-along to If it Makes You Happy, but the biggest roar came for Melissa Etheridge as she came out and joined Crow for a cover of The Allman Brothers Band Midnight Rider. The fans flocked to the stage and were treated to some duelling women of rock having way too much fun for a Monday night.
Everyday Is a Winding Road
A Change Would Do You Good
All I Wanna Do
My Favorite Mistake
Can't Cry Anymore
The First Cut Is the Deepest
There Goes the Neighborhood
Best of Times
If It Makes You Happy
Soak Up the Sun