Monday, October 17, 2005

An intimate birthday gift from Sheryl Crow

Concert ticket: $80.85
Parking at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland: $20
Draft microbrew beer: $8
Spending your birthday evening being serenaded by Sheryl Crow: Priceless

It’s been quite the day, so in an attempt to share as much detail as I can about the
Sheryl Crow concert, we bring you this special All-Sheryl-Crow-edition of the Digital Fishwrap Rainbow Roll. Settle in folks, this is a bit long.

Sheryl Crow took the stage at the Rose Garden arena at about 8:25 p.m. There was no opening act. No introduction from the wings. Just the dimming of the house lights, the lifting of curtains surrounding the stage, and Crow and her band taking the stage, belting out the first lines and licks of the first song of the night.

Crow was the picture of the casual pop songstress, wearing a white summer dress with a pleated hemline, which showed off her slender, verging on skinny, legs from just above the knee all the way down to her strappy high-healed shoes. But her vocals left no doubt this singer has roots in rock and blues and she packs some powerful pipes in a slender frame. I have to say, ordinarily I like a woman with some meat on her bones. A little junk in the trunk. But Crow defies what I would ordinarily describe as the ideal. Maybe it’s the hair. Maybe it’s the eyes. The lips certainly have something to do with it. And my God, the voice is stunning. And Sheryl and I did have one matching accessory item, or lovely yellow Live Strong bracelets.

And, because I’m sure someone will be dying to know after comments made in an earlier post, of course biker boy, the instigator behind the “Live Strong” cancer awareness bracelet and the huge rock Sheryl was sporting on her left-hand ring finger, Lance Armstrong himself was at the show.

And no I didn’t kick his ass, or strangle him with my bracelet, but the boy certainly pushed his luck at flaunting himself with the object of my unrequited musical crush.

I first spotted Armstrong wearing a black shirt and ballcap, off on the left side of the stage behind the soundboard, where a guitar mechanic was tuning instruments for Sheryl during the performance. No one else seated around me seemed to spot the seven-time Tour de France winner though.

Then, in between songs, Armstrong starts coming onto the stage carrying a guitar. I turned to the guy next to me and said, “Look who is bringing Sheryl her guitar.” The guy didn’t get it at first. So I repeated it in a different way. “Do you recognize the guy bringing her her guitar?” About that time a buzz went up from the audience, mostly the women. Then there was a completely unnecessary display of hugging and kissing right there on center stage.

Sheryl made a joke about how it was hard to find good help and something about that being the most expensive guitar tech she ever had, which drew a laugh from the audience. She never introduced him though, even though she mentioned him by name a couple of times during the show. Then Sheryl and the band launched into “All I Wanna Do,” which was the song that brought Crow and her music to my attention and spawned the crush that has now lasted more than a decade. Obviously, the special nature and aura of positive feelings and emotions that song has evoked for me over the years is not forever tainted with Lance Armstrong kooties. I may never recover.

Biker boy made another appearance onstage during one of the encores when Sheryl signaled for him to join her on stage, and the two briefly danced during the musical solo. I saw visions of myself sprinting the nine rows to the stage and tackling Armstrong in a fit of rage, but then the coward skulked back off stage to hide inside the concert security perimeter.


Crow fronted a 5-piece band and an 11-piece string section, producing a sound capable of rock ’n’ roll power and orchestral complexity, and a hint of country twang at one point.

Crow herself played acoustic, electric and bass guitar, piano and even a little harmonica thrown in.

The song list went deep into selections from Crow’s latest album “Wildflower,” particularly early in the show. I’m not 100 percent certain, my memory may be influence by the fact that I listened to the CD on the way to the concert, but I believe she played every single song on the new album. She may have missed one or two. I lost count during the show at about 7 or 8 songs off the news album.

But there were plenty of old favorites on the playlist as well. Of the 16 songs (yes there are 17 tracks, but one song is on there in two different versions) on her “The Very Best of Sheryl Crow” album, Crow and company played a dozen or more songs.

Notably absent from the playlist were the hit singles “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Steve McQueen.”

Crow played two encores for the Portland audience, but many in the crowd seemed on the verge of bolting, some even walking toward the exits, willing to walk out before the house lights were raised and Crow’s second curtain call.

The wait for the first encore was a tad long, but when Sheryl came out on stage in a different outfit, the lag time between stage departure and reemergence was easier to understand. Sheryl ditched the dress for a pair of jeans and tank top T-shirt, and lost the high heals in favor of some biker-chick high-heel sandals.

Among the songs in the encore sets were Elton John’s “Levon,” “Soak Up The Sun” and her post-9/11 inspired “Safe And Sound.”

The concert itself had a much more intimate feel than the Brad Paisley/Sara Evans/SugarLand show I’d attended at the Rose Garden just a few weeks earlier. This seemed more like a show in a Las Vegas showroom venue than a major sports arena. The stage was set sideways on the arena floor, and there were far fewer seats sold for Sheryl’s show than the country concert. A good portion of the arena was actually curtained off, with maybe about half the seating capacity used.

There were no video screens showing Sheryl’s face. There were a couple of video backdrops, but those were used to show images and graphics related to some of the song, almost like a music video, rather than showing the performer sitting far from the stage. But the way the seating was set up, no one really seamed far from the stage.

Of course my impression of intimacy may have been colored by the fact that I was on the arena floor, a mere nine rows from the stage, with an excellent view of Sheryl, her outfit, her legs, her… well, you get the idea.

I could not find a souvenir vendor at the show anywhere. I was so looking forward to getting a Sheryl Crow T-shirt, so I could always have her lips close to my heart. But I walked through a fair amount of the Rose Garden concourse and didn’t see a booth anywhere. There was food. There was beer. There was booze. But no T-shirt booth. Oh, sure, I would have bitched about paying some outrageous price for a shirt. But for Sheryl, it would have been worth it.

That, and I know how hot women find it when middle-aged men where apparel with the likeness of another woman on it. I’m sure my dating life really would have picked up with my beer gut wrapped in a silkscreen portrait of Sheryl. Talk about a babe magnet! Does anyone even say babe magnet anymore?

Then, almost exactly 2 hours after the first note was played, the show came to an end. It was the climax to a great day. Couldn’t have been better, well, except for that whole having to work thing. And an hour after the show ended I was back home. But that certainly wasn’t the end of the excitement.

Shortly after arriving home, the evening is capped by a police car ripping through the apartment complex where I live at a high rate of speed, lights and sirens going, apparently in pursuit of someone. The car circled much of the complex before coming to a stop a ways down the lot. A few minutes later several more patrol cars showed up.

Nothing like a little crime drama to add a little extra spice to an already exciting day. There I was, standing outside in the parking lot with the neighbors, swapping details about what we saw and heard, and gawking down the way to see if we could see what was going on. Not daring to venture too close, lest there be weapons drawn and boogie-men, with or without badges, running loose.
This will certainly be a birthday I will not soon forget.

Sheryl Crow
Lance Armstrong
Live music
Portland, Ore.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this really does sound like the perfect birthday gift to yourself! Happy birthday again.

Brat said...

Thankg God you couldn't find a t-shirt! You would just have to burn it along with the one you got from the strip club!

3rdtimesacharm( 3T ) said...

I'm glad you had a great time G-Man! :-)


Jessica said...

Just found your blog b/c of this review; here's mine, in case you're interested:

Of course, it wasn't my birthday, I wasn't in the 9th row, and I don't have a thing for Sheryl. But still, it was a great show.

Oh, and we saw one place selling shirts. There was just a sign that said, "Cool Stuff" - it looked like it was a permanent Rose Garden fixture where Sheryl's stuff was just set up. I'm quite sure the exact same "cool stuff" can be purchased on her website.

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