Sheryl Crow keeps it classy in Vancouver

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 5, 2008

Sheryl Crow doesn’t suffer fools—or dickheads like Karl Rove— gladly. That’s why, after getting involved in a heated exchange on global warming with George W. Bush’s former deputy chief of staff at a White House dinner last year, she became hell-bent on using her art to strike back at the world-wrecking policies of the Dubya administration.

The result of her outrage was Detours, the politically oriented album Crow released this year, and which is currently the focus of the tour that touched down in Vancouver on Saturday (October 4).

The 46-year-old breast-cancer survivor wasted no time getting to the point. After the house lights went down and the PA blasted out Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”—a Barack Obama victory song if ever I heard one—Crow took her place in front of a black curtain bearing a huge white peace sign. She then dove right into “God Bless This Mess”, the Detours opener that lambastes Bush and his warmongering cronies.

Then the curtain was yanked down and Crow was joined by her eight-piece band for a couple more Detours tracks before she travelled back to 1994 for “Leaving Las Vegas”, the second single off her multiplatinum debut, Tuesday Night Music Club.

That’s basically how the concert played out for the next two hours or so, Crow interspersing breezy superhits like “Soak Up the Sun” and “If It Makes You Happy” with more serious Detours numbers inspired by skyrocketing fuel costs (“Gasoline”) and the ongoing effects of Hurricane Katrina (“Love is Free”). From a rockin’ standpoint, the show peaked with a couple of songs from 1998’s The Globe Sessions, “There Goes the Neighborhood” (which incorporated a smidgen of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”) and the funky “My Favorite Mistake”.

The latter tune is widely rumoured to be about former flame Eric Clapton, but Crow’s long-time guitarist, ace stringbender Peter Stroud, didn’t inject any trademark Slowhand licks to give it away.

Crow’s encore included her first hit, “All I Wanna Do”, which was followed by a rollicking version of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”. During that primo selection, backup vocalists Stephanie Alexander and Nayanna Holley came out front to sing lead on one verse each, and they made potent use of their allotted time. Man, those women can wail! If they’d stolen the spotlight any longer, Crow might never have gotten it back.

All in all, like the lady herself, Crow’s concert was a class act. The light show was ravishing and brilliantly executed, and sound engineer Sean Sullivan worked magic with the hockey rink’s questionable acoustics. My only real complaint was that, unlike every other major touring act that plays the arenas here, Crow didn’t employ the big video screens that allow everyone a decent view of the stage. It would have been nice to catch at least one close-up of that killer smile.

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