EW Online is there as rock's queen of the road rolls through New York City on her way to a summer of nonstop touring

By Mark Bautz
Updated May 05, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Sheryl Crow
Credit: Crow: Kevin Kane/Mazur

Are you strong enough to be her… fan? Sheryl Crow will perform in 38 Lilith Fair shows (beginning July 8 in Vancouver); she’ll also tour Europe in June with the Rolling Stones and sing at the three-day Woodstock festival in Rome, New York, July 23-25. What’s more, Crow is producing Stevie Nicks’ upcoming solo record, playing at numerous special events (such as Friday’s Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis) and, oh yeah, she’s just wrapping up a three-month-long national headlining tour. At three sold-out concerts earlier this week in her adopted hometown of New York City, Crow took the stage to preview the set fans can expect to see at her upcoming summer shows.

From the crunching electric guitars of the opener, ”Maybe That’s Something,” through her entire set, it was clear that the denim-clad folkie who launched her career in 1993 with ”All I Wanna Do” is now a full-blown rocker. Adopting a spread-legged guitar-strumming pose that Courtney Love could envy, Crow belted out her dark lyrics about tenuous love. Behind her, a triptych of video screens flashed images of ’50s-style exotic dancers and bold psychedelic color patterns.

The video show continued throughout the 19-song set, and Crow vamped along, striking choreographed poses that seemed to come straight from her latest MTV videos. White-hot lights more typical of a Kiss concert blinded the audience during ”Am I Getting Through (Part I & II),” leaving billowing smoke as the only rock-show effect not in evidence.

Yet at strategic points, Crow smartly slowed things down. She introduced the hit ”A Change,” for example, as a deeply personal song about ”what you do when you’ve been dumped: cry, hate yourself, hate him — cut your hair!” Then she ran a hand through her spiky, newly cropped ‘do to emphasize the point.

In her relatively short career, Crow has produced a playlist of lyrically and musically strong songs — ”My Favorite Mistake,” ”Everyday Is a Winding Road,” and ”Leaving Las Vegas,” to name just three — that few, if any, current singer-songwriters can match. Her voice, which has been called delicate in the past, proved powerful enough to prevail over her very loud (and exceedingly tight) band. Even her sense of pacing and arranging — she used cello and violin to deepen the texture of several songs — were faultless.

And her banter won over the crowd. When an audience member tossed a joint onstage, Crow joked, ”That’s how bands used to get paid in the ’70s.” And when she urged fans who were standing in the aisles to ”shake their asses” during ”Members Only” (she turned her back to the crowd and gave a demonstration), most everyone obliged. It was all they wanted to do.