Live At The Capitol Theatre (2 CD/DVD)

Sheryl Crow

Cleopatra Records / MVD Visual, 2018

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


“She’s lost her edge.”

Sometimes I wonder why I bother writing reviews at all. Mostly this happens when I’m listening to (and/or watching) a musical performance and carefully formulating in my head a set of observations while in the presence of my dear wife Karen. At some point in my ruminations I’ll turn to her and ask what she thinks, which is her cue to sum up every nuanced impression I’ve been formulating in my head with a single sharp, pithy phrase.

This review will in fact consist of more than Karen’s above four-word commentary, but there’s no denying that, as a summation of Sheryl Crow’s new double-CD-plus-DVD set Live At The Capitol Theatre, it’s pretty much on the nose.

Crow is by now a veteran performer, a fact she alludes to more than once in the between-song banter heard here. Beginning with her 1993 debut Tuesday Night Music Club, she’s delivered 10 studio albums, dozens of singles, and thousands of live dates. This 21-song two-hour-plus set features her six-person touring band, a strong ensemble that allows her to recreate most of her studio oeuvre with great accuracy, which is both a blessing and somewhat of a curse. With few exceptions, she holds tight to the familiar here, playing the hits faithfully and sticking to her script, taking no risks and delivering a show that’s well-structured and professional but at times rather listless.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This is an especially odd outcome considering she opens with two of her more powerful tunes, the expansive “Everyday Is A Winding Road” and the punchy, acerbic “A Change Would Do You Good.” Both are performed skillfully, and between the CDs and the DVD you hear and see little bits of vamping and audience interaction, but every moment and every move feels carefully scripted and staged, devoid of spontaneity or anything resembling edge. The album these two cuts are taken from, Crow’s self-titled 1996 sophomore disc, is a fiery statement that veers from anger to despair and back again. That volatility is nowhere to be found here.

The rest of the set mixes solid newer material from 2017’s Be Myself (upbeat, rather poppy singles “Be Myself” and “Halfway There,” plus “Long Way Back Home,” “Roller Skate” and “Heartbeat Away”) with familiar tunes from several of the intervening albums (“My Favorite Mistake,” “There Goes The Neighborhood,” “Best Of Times,” “Soak Up The Sun”) and strong representation from her 1993 debut (“Run Baby Run,” “Can’t Cry Anymore,” “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Strong Enough,” “I Shall Believe,” and, of course, “All I Wanna Do”). Crow also covers “The First Cut Is The Deepest” (Cat Stevens / Rod Stewart) and “Midnight Rider” (the Allman Brothers). Most of these cuts feel like they're performed with more professionalism than enthusiasm, with many—particularly the older ones—feeling somewhat over-rehearsed and undercooked. (It’s worth noting that this was the last show on a lengthy tour, which could have played a role there.)

As for the DVD, the production team has done its job well, shooting the show with 16 cameras that capture each moment from a variety of angles and interspersing the concert action with backstage interview segments with Crow. The problem is not production values or editing, but rather that the performances themselves feel rote and bland. In the interview Crow enthuses about the history of the venue and her hope to capture some of the “good juju” left behind by performers like the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers, but there’s not much evidence of that actually happening.

Instead what you get is a well-performed set that lacks any element of surprise or risk; it’s an eminently safe Sheryl Crow By The Numbers show from start to finish, highly competent and oddly passionless. As a fan, I’m quite fond of many of these songs, but so far I’m stumped for a reason why I’d want to hear this particular presentation of them again.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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