Since bursting onto the scene in 1993 with her 2x platinum debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, Sheryl Crow has released eight solid, well-received, albums and can justifiably be considered a true rock & roll Queen. Twenty-four years down the road, following her foray into country music with 2013’s Feels Like Home, Sheryl has returned with her ninth studio album, Be Myself. Reuniting with her 90’s collaborators, co-producer Jeff Trott and engineer Tchad Blake, Be Myself captures the feel of the more pop-rock guitar groove on her early releases. With the album garnering favorable reviews, Sheryl has hit the road for a run of Spring and Summer shows across the U.S. The tour recently stopped in Raleigh NC for a sold-out performance at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Most of the Saturday afternoon weather was perfect for an outdoor show at the NCMA amphitheater, but as luck would have it, a cold front rolling through the area dragged along a line thunderstorms that produced some heavy rain showers and wind just before the gates were due to open, necessitating a one hour delay before opening the gates to the queued fans. Unfortunately, the weather delay also meant that opener Aaron Lee Tasjan would not be able to perform as scheduled leaving Sheryl to carry the evening… And that she did!
With the rain coming to a full stop and the clouds parting, Sheryl and her band took the stage and launched into an opening salvo of some of her biggest hits, kicking off with “Everyday Is a Winding Road,” followed by “A Change Would Do You Good,” “All I Wanna Do,” and “My Favorite Mistake,” before dipping into new material with the title track from Be Myself. Crow, who turned 55 this year, remained consistently high energy throughout the set. She seemingly defied her age as she alternated between strumming an acoustic guitar, laying down some thick bass lines, and even holding her own as she delivered some harmonica licks. While Sheryl’s multi-instrumentalist skills were remarkable, what really stood out were her seemingly effortless and powerful vocals. The charismatic singer-songwriter’s voice has aged every bit as impressively as her playing. Not to be outdone, her six-piece band remained tight and nimble as they filled out the sound and propelled each song while providing just the right amount of restraint when called for. The set continued to strike a good balance between new songs including “Long Way Back,” “Alone in the Dark,” an insanely fun take on “Roller Skate,” and classic hits including, “There Goes the Neighborhood,” “Leaving Las Vegas,” and “Strong Enough,” as well as Crow’s cover of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” The appreciative crowd spent the evening dancing and singing along. Sheryl and the band somehow found another gear and raised the energy for the set closing one-two punch of “If It Makes You Happy” followed by “Soak Up the Sun” before coming back out to send everyone home with a rousing cover of The Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” and a soulful “I Shall Believe.”
After 24 years, Sheryl Crow is still firing on all cylinders. She has released one of her strongest albums to date and her live show has remained magnetic and entertaining. Do yourself a favor and put your ears on Be Myself, and definitely catch her out on the road if you get the chance.