While we have long established that there will be a time when eight hours in a car and a bedtime that coincides with dawn stops being a sane thing to do for live music, it apparently hasn't happened yet, as we journey down to the Scala for Sheryl Crow's 'intimate' gig there on Valentine's Day.
(Five hours in the blistering cold - who said romance is dead?)
We were the first to commence queueing at about half two, and Sheryl showed up a few hours later and was gracious enough to sign autographs, although wasn't interested in having photos taken (not with her hair looking like that, darling). She seems unusually concerned about the secondary market in Sheryl Crow autographs, something that I wasn't aware was overly profitable - she made damn sure that everything she signed was signed TO someone to prevent it's re-sale. Odd, but there you have. Or more accurately, here you have it:
The show itself was fantastic - a far better set than I've ever seen her do before, even though a lot of it was material from her new album, which on first listen I wasn't immediately attracted to - the politics are too obvious and too heavy handed - one track in particular is a couple of hand claps away from a "can I get a hallelujah?". No, Sheryl, you can't.
But that's a minor complaint. She seemed happy to be there, smiled her way through the gig, trotted out a few of the hits (and got the words wrong to Soak Up The Sun - fair enough, they were mostly nonsense anyway.
For once, she was OK with cameras, having previously been dead against. There seems to be have been some kind of mindset change for her on the issue, as she now even has a section on her website to upload fan taken gig photos. It did make it all the worse that my G9 was in for repair, and I was left making do with a £40 emerency compact I'd picked up from Tesco before Christmas. The good news is that even thus handicapped, I got some good results:
More at http://www.flickr.com/photos/9336133@N06/ for those interested.
God Bless this mess (Detours)
Shine over Babylon (Detours)
Love is free (Detours)
Leaving Las Vegas (TNMC)
Cant Cry anymore (TNMC)
Diamond Ring (Detours)
Now That youre gone (Detours)
Drunk with the thought of you (detours)
Strong enough (TNMC)
Out of our heads (Detours)
If it makes you happy (SC)
Winding road (SC)
-- Encore --
Doctor my eyes (Jackson Browne)
Soak up the sun (Cmon Cmon)
All I wanna do (TNMC)
Interesting approach in coming on at 9pm with no support. The problem with a lot of smaller venues is that they don't put the main act on until half nine and then you stand through two supports, who are almost uniformly terrible, leaving you exhausted before it starts.
This has obviously become the expected thing, though - it caught out quite a few people at last night's lukewarm Smashing Pumpkins gig at the MEN Arena. They came on around 8:25 and played until the end of time (or did it just feel that way?) meaning that people who turned up at 9:00 had already missed the likes of Tonight, Tonight and whatever the nine minute noodly prog thing they opened with was. The people next to me showed up at around 9:15 having missed a solid third of the set.