Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne – Sheryl-Crow-Riverside-Theatre-Perth-9
Picture: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne

Review: Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge at Riverside Theatre, Perth, 3 April 2018

Perth’s Riverside Theatre was turned into a raging torrent on Tuesday night as Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge churned out a performance as pleasantly fatiguing as it was engaging. The audience was spoiled for choice, with the two-and-a-half-hour spectacle an obvious labour of love.

Etheridge was a show unto herself, and well worth the price of admission alone. Blazing nonstop for an hour, the 56-year old tested the water with her stirring sense of humour, a story about understanding AFL through a haze of jet lag warmly received. Etheridge proved she was still at the top of her game, best witnessed during ‘Brave and Crazy’, which featured an extensive passage of wailing guitars and filthy bass. As the night wore on the gears wound up, the change of pace unexpected but welcome, with the stripped back ‘You Can Sleep While I Drive’ showcasing the singer’s softer side.

Etheridge didn’t leave out her smash hits, making sure songs like ‘I’m the Only One’, ‘Like the Way I Do’, and ‘I Want To Come Over’ had their moment in the spotlight and propelling many punters out of their seats and into the aisles.

Crow was every bit the humble, genre-bending singer-songwriter, clad in starry pants and looking as though she were conversing with old friends rather than complete strangers. Her reverence for Cottesloe beach and tale of eating emu (apparently it’s “red and slimy”) in Melbourne on Thanksgiving had the crowd in hysterics. None of these tales had a tone of pre-planning, but were told as naturally as you would tell a funny story to a friend. Crow’s personable nature carried over into her music, her astounding vocal range both captivating and chuckle-worthy, when she attempted to get the congregation to repeat her wails.

It is perhaps unsurprising that several of Crow’s most well-known tracks, ‘All I Wanna Do’ and ‘If It Makes You Happy’, were highlights. ‘Best of Times’ trumped both, however, prefaced by Crow’s quip that “I have to believe the best days are in front of us, because I have small children.” The pacy track, from Crow’s 2013 country album ‘Feels Like Home, was full of country twang and the occasional harmonica croon (is it compulsory for country artists to learn harmonica?) adding a bit of spice, and a lot to the immersion.

Although fine in moderation, there were a few too many instances of long instrumental sections that bordered on overindulgence. When used sparingly, these moments can be spectacular, but this was a card which was played a bit too often, and as such, there were diminishing returns with each successive bout. That’s not to say that all of these flourishes were tactless, however.

In a breakdown where Crow and her bandmates gathered around each other, for a moment, it seemed as though they were back in the prime of their youth, lost in performing music only for themselves. It was a touching moment that summed up the night perfectly. It was plainly apparent that Crow and Etheridge didn’t come to Perth out of a sense of obligation or solely for financial gain. They came here to connect with those they hadn’t seen in eight years (in Crow’s case, at least).

In an emotional finale, Crow’s bandmates quietly surrounded her as she sat at the keyboard, softly singing the chorus of a stripped back and gospel-tinged ‘I Shall Believe’. There was no sense of ending with a whimper; merely tying a bow on a neat package.

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