Rock'n'Roll's randy female guitar slinger, Sheryl Crow, brought her road act to Manchester, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, September 4, 2002, at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Crow's competent stage band comprised drummer Jim Bogios, keyboardist Mike Rowe, guitarist-bassist Tim Smith, and guitarist Peter Stroud.
With the sound of race cars engines whizzing past in stereo to strobe stage lighting, Crow and her band kicked off their set with "Steve McQueen" from her latest studio effort. A triple electric guitar assault embellished the impact of this pop-rocker, which included a pause and reprise coda.
A loose percussion beat started off "Everyday Is A Winding Road". Crow had an acoustic guitar slung behind her back as she began to sing, and later repositioned it to play. A bottleneck solo preceded a jam during the percussion break. Crow called out, "How do you feel Manchester? Yeah, me too ... feels hot!"
"Let's travel back in time when we we're all just a little bit wilder ... before we went into rehab", was her vocal vignette that foreshadowed "Leaving Las Vegas". During the bridge, Crow invited audience participation, "I need you to play the part of the drunken back up singer, competing for a deal on American Idol; boys then girls".
Her comment, "This goes to all of you if you're a man or not", generated cheers among the crowd. Crow's pretty voice complemented her beautiful ballad "Strong Enough". Crow picked up a red rose tossed on stage at the completion of the song.
A distorted guitar intro began "Change". Crow yelled out, "Are you with me now?", before the song segued into a cover of The Who's 1965 breakthrough single "I Can't Explain" with Bogios on lead vocals. "That's our little send-out to John Entwistle", was Crow's recognition of the recently departed Who bassist.
"Back to the party mode, this is Manchester!", heralded a country-shuffle version of her early hit, "All I Wanna Do". Crow called out, "Is there a party going on?", referring to the merriment of the crowd. Crow handled bass guitar for "There Goes The Neighborhood". "Thank you for coming out, Manchester", was her final remark as the band rocked out before leaving the stage.
After an extended pause to build the anticipation of her impending encore, Crow planted herself behind a grand piano to perform "Safe And Sound", illuminated by red stage lighting. Familiar visual clips from the 1960s and modern images appeared on screen during this power ballad.
Crow closed the concert with an up-tempo cover of the Led Zeppelin classic "Rock And Roll". She climbed up on top of the grand piano barefoot and began to writhe suggestively like a go-go dancer. The only thing Crow needed was a golden pole to accentuate her seductive actions. Crow demonstrated her head-banger moves and leaped off of the piano, synchronized to the final note.
Manchester was happy to host Sheryl Crow in concert. However, A good number of extra tickets were circulating outside the venue as most of them went unused. Arizonan teenager Michelle Branch was the opening artist.
Manchester setlist: Steve McQueen * Everyday Is A Winding Road * My Favorite Mistake * C'mon C'mon * You're An Original * Leaving Las Vegas * Strong Enough * If It Makes You Happy * Lucky Kid * Change/I Can't Explain * Difficult Kind * Home * All I Wanna Do * Soak Up The Sun * There Goes The Neighborhood * Encore: Safe And Sound * Rock And Roll
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Sheryl Crow makes Manchester happy
by Timothy Tilghman