Saturday Deluxe / 20 May 2017

It suits you. Sheryl Crow is herself

Last night saw Sheryl Crow entertain a London crowd at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. It was SDE’s third gig in three nights. I might need to slow things down. I’m getting too old for this malarkey…

Crow is in the UK to support her new album Be Myself which I’ve been playing all week in anticipation. I’ll be honest, after one or two listens I thought it was a pleasant, but perhaps a bit lightweight. The music sounded great – like ‘classic’ Crow – but the songs seemed a bit average, albeit the SDE toe was tapping regularly.

However, the record has been getting under my skin and I now think it’s her best album in years. The production is superb; those crunchy guitar sounds, funky bass, great drums. Crow has already said “it was a complete blast and the most effortless thing I’ve ever done” and the music really does shout out “we’re having lots of fun!”

One of the best things about Be Myself is the subject matter of the songs, which any forty or fifty-something parent can relate to. They concern things like people’s obsession/addition to mobile phones (Roller Skate), the overt sexualisation of woman in the media (Woo Woo – which has the wonderful line “every time I check my twitter, somebody’s butt is in my face”) and the time-honoured sentiment of enjoy-life-and-have-fun (Grow Up).

The title track Be Myself made me wonder if Crow has seen that great Noah Baumbach film While We’re Young (highly recommended) in which Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts’ characters (they’re married and middle-aged) get seduced by the apparently groovier lifestyle of a millennial couple. Crow certainly feels like she’s ‘being herself’ on this album and it’s most welcome. I can’t stop playing it right now, which is the ultimate test. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.

Seek out the Target exclusive in the USA or the Japanese CD of Be Myself for three bonus tracks (the same ones).

Imelda May at the London Palladium

24 hours earlier, Thursday evening required a visit to The Beatles‘ old stomping ground, the London Palladium, where Imelda May stopped off on her UK tour to perform songs from her new T Bone Burnett-produced album Live. Love. Flesh. Blood.

May has left the fast-paced rockabilly sounds of her previous albums behind for a decidedly mature ‘jazz-pop’ sound. This might be dull if the songs weren’t so good and it wasn’t executed with such aplomb.

Should’ve Been You is the infectious single, Call Me the intimate Norah Jones-ish ballad, Human recalls Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders (they even had a song with the same title) and Levitate is the Bond-theme-in-waiting (check out that last chord).

Dressed all in black, with her Christian Louboutin boots (my wife told me), May charmed the audience with witty between-song patter in that thick Dublin accent. She not only played the new album in its entirety, she also performed all three bonus tracks from the deluxe edition, ending with the rocky Game Changer. That’s got to be some kind of record! There’s an idea for a quirky show. Band plays only bonus tracks from deluxe editions of albums…

Imelda May’s UK tour continues tonight. Live. Love. Flesh. Blood. is out now.

Sheryl Crow / Shepherd’s Bush Empire 19th May: setlist

Everyday Is a Winding Road
A Change Would Do You Good
All I Wanna Do
My Favorite Mistake
Be Myself
Long Way Back
Alone In The Dark
Can’t Cry Anymore
The First Cut Is the Deepest
Heartbeat Away
There Goes the Neighborhood
Leaving Las Vegas
Strong Enough
Rest Of Me
Roller Skate
Halfway There
Best of Times
If It Makes You Happy
Soak Up the Sun

Run, Baby, Run
I Shall Believe

Imelda May / London Palladium 18 May : setlist

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