For the first time in two years, Sheryl Crow launched a summer tour. This stop on the ‘Be Myself’ at the Beacon Theater in New York brought a great selection of new and old music. Though some of the topics of her songs are not relatable, like hitching a ride with a vending machine repairman, Crow’s honesty in her songwriting and effortless performance style forged a strong connection with the audience. Crow released the ‘Be Myself’ album in April. As a support act, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of Real brought that same truth and emotional vulnerability to the performance.
As the second youngest son of country singer Willie Nelson, long-haired Lukas Nelson is every bit the performer as his father. The band’s intimate setup (two guitars, two drummers, a keyboard and steel guitar) both relaxed and invigorated the crowd. The band played a diverse catalog of songs, including cuts off their 2016 album, ‘Something Real.’ Their sound blends southern blues rock and love ballads seamlessly. Another song that riled up the crowd was ‘Four Letter Word,’ a blues-style take on marriage and the meaning of forever. Nelson brought the crowd to silence with his recent song, ‘(Forget About) Georgia.’ This was an ode to Nelson’s ex and the difficulty he faced playing songs with her name in the title after the couple’s breakup. Another breakup song in the set was ‘Before I Find Somebody Else,’ an emotional cacophony about an impending relationship ending.
Crow came out full of energy for her first song, the 1996 single ‘Everyday is a Winding Road.’ She was able to clap her hands one moment, then swap to play the acoustic guitar strapped to her back. Her ability to excel at multiple instruments was on display. Aside from the acoustic guitar, the singer played her electric guitar, a bass, and a keyboard. During her blues-influenced ‘Best of Times,’ the singer wailed away on the harmonica like a pro. Crow was backed by 6 equally talented musicians who shifted seamlessly between a set list of 90’s rock classics and her more country-influenced current music. The singer spoke about her influences for the music on her new album, Be Myself, which released in April. A bouncy, pop-influenced new track ‘Roller Skate’ was influenced by a technology cleanse Crow took in an effort to be more present with her children. She also took inspiration from politics and current affairs for ‘Halfway There,’ a song about getting along with others with opposing viewpoints.
As the title track to the album and the tour, Crow shined on ‘Be Myself.’ Now in her 50’s, the nine-time Grammy Award winner spoke with a wizened take on both music on life. She appeared onstage with stylish sneakers, sparkling pants and a tank top, looking relaxed and chic. As a resident of Nashville, Crow spoke about writing her new album in between school drop-off and making dinner for her sons. While her grittier songs like ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ and ‘Can’t Cry Anymore’ satisfied the crowd, her bubbly 2002 hit ‘Soak Up the Sun’ had the most suborn audience members dancing and singing along. By far, Crow connected to the audience the most during her rocking ballad, ‘If It Makes You Happy.’ The devastating song had the audience lighting up phones like lighters and belting the lyrics back at Crow, who beamed with pride.
The encore brought Nelson back to the stage. The pair jammed on ‘Midnight Rider’ to honor their recently passed friend, the late Gregg Allman. In her final song, Crow’s heartbreakingly beautiful ‘I Shall Believe’ brought complete silence to the crowd. In the closing lyrics, “Please say honestly you won’t give up on me, and I shall believe,” Crow promised the crowd she would continue to be herself. ‘Be Myself’ is available now via Warner Brothers records.