Sheryl Crow should just start writing her acceptance speech right now.
For, if justice is served, she'll certainly need one after she's voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And that should happen in 2018 -- 25 years after the release of the debut record "Tuesday Night Music Club" -- which will mark her first year of eligibility.
The case for her induction to the hall -- pop music's most elite and prestigious club -- was outlined once again on Monday night at the lovely Wente Vineyards in Livermore. It consisted of 16 songs, which combined to scream that Crow deserves to be ranked among the finest female rock stars of all time, right up there with Hall of Famers like Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and Debbie Harry.
There might not be another rocker -- male or female -- who has delivered a larger number of memorable hits over the past 20 years. Crow played roughly a dozen big ones during her outing in Livermore, which hardly emptied the cupboard.
Unfortunately, Crow's performance wasn't quite as impressive as her set list. She was a bit low on energy, even during many of the big rockers, and that set the tone for the surprisingly mellow fans as well. It took until the 14th song, the philosophical pop-rocker "If It Make You Happy," for the party to really start rolling. By then, however, we were already approaching the finish line.
Backed by a steady five-piece band, Crow certainly didn't horde the hits for the end. She opened
It was a far cry from what was seen at the 2011 Sonoma Jazz + festival, where Crow delivered one of the more energized concerts I've witnessed from her. Yet her vocals still sounded great at Wente and, of course, there was no knocking the set list.
For the most part, the best cuts were the slower songs, such as "Strong Enough," "The First Cut Is the Deepest" and "Home," all of which benefitted from a degree of world weariness in Crow's voice. She's grown quite crafty as a balladeer, having realized the power of the soft sell and learned different ways to showcase her own emotional depth. Crow exhibited just the right amount of sincerity on these tunes, which made the lyrics feel all that more poignant.
Those are signs of a mature artist, one whose life experiences are now as vital to her craft as her vocal range. Crow has certainly been through a lot over the years — especially in regard to health concerns. Most recently, Crow, a breast cancer survivor, announced to the public that she has a benign brain tumor.
She joked about her condition at Wente, quickly adding that having a brain tumor was nothing to joke about, and otherwise talked very freely about herself to the audience. Crow seemed absolutely comfortable in her own skin, which, given all that she's accomplished during her career, makes perfect sense.
She didn't exhibit much stage presence or charisma, but she made up for those deficiencies with -- stop me if you've heard this before -- her staggeringly impressive set list. She'd bring the show to a close with such fun fan favorites as "C'mon C'mon" and "Soak Up the Sun."
With her credentials for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame set in gold and platinum, Crow must now look to the future. It's been several years since her last sizable hit (2005's "Always on Your Side") and it will be interesting to see if she can make another run up the charts.
Or, perhaps, a Tony Award could be in her future. We'll find out when "Diner," Crow's new musical about the 1982 film of the same name, goes for a test spin at San Francisco's Curran Theatre in the fall.
Just in case it's a hit, Crow should start working on another acceptance speech right now.
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