As the headliner for the Jeep World Outside Festival tour, Sheryl Crow did everything right Sunday night at the Tweeter Center. She played a tight set, had an interesting stage setup and sang all the hits her fans wanted to hear.
But Train, which preceded her onstage, ended up stealing the show.
On record, the five-man band is pleasant, but not particularly explosive. The band’s songs are radio-friendly and its arrangements are well-executed. But Train also projects a laid-back attitude that hints at blandness. Live, the band takes more chances. The crisp guitar licks cut through even an enormodome like the Tweeter Center, and Pat Monahan’s voice carried on through the night long after the band had left the stage.
Monahan has one of those voices that is unusually good. He can add a sly flair to “Meet Virginia” by slowing down a few words. While his vocals are distinctive, Monahan also can outsing Steven Tyler, lead vocalist of Aerosmith, when he tackles “Dream On.” Guitarists Jimmy Stafford and Rob Hotchkiss had the melody down to a science.
They even added a fresh spin to “Drops of Jupiter”–a song that seems to pop up every other hour on the radio. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll think they’re incredibly sweet or naively romantic (“Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star/One without a permanent scar/And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there”). But when Monahan sings it live on a beautiful summer night, it all makes sense.
Backed by a four-man band, Crow opened her set with “Steve McQueen.” Dressed in a pair of metallic pants and a beige halter top, Crow held court at center stage with a gigantic guitar and her raspy voice. She missed a few of the higher notes on “Every Day Is a Winding Road” and “My Favorite Mistake,” but was back to form for the bittersweet “Strong Enough,” which she dedicated to the man she hasn’t met yet.
O.A.R. opened the show to a half-full crowd that was still making its way into the venue. But its set received the most raucous reception from the young fans, who were allowed to scooch to the front of the venue for the band’s performance. These kids had no patience for newcomers who didn’t know about O.A.R. When a small portion of the crowd began to chant “Oar, Oar, Oar!” one of the teens sitting behind me said, “Ohmigod! They think it’s [called] Oar! They’re so stupid.”
And just so you don’t ever get accused of being stupid, O.A.R. stands for Of a Revolution.
While none of the band’s songs were revolutionary, they were effervescent and energetic, especially during “Hey Girl,” when guitarist Richard On and singer Marc Roberge perfectly complemented each other.
As a concert, the Jeep World Outside Festival was a success because the musical lineup made sense. As a festival, it’s no Lollapalooza. Designed to be a sporty day for fans, the festival had Tweeter Center set up with an adventure village where you could kayak, scuba dive and rock climb. In theory, that’s a great idea. But who really wants to jump in a giant tub of water where you’re within arm’s reach of another sweaty fan?