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Ghost Canyon

Concert Reviews
'Jeep World Outside’ Tour
Featuring Sheryl Crow, Train, Five For Fighting, etc.
(DTE Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI – 08/10/02)

Venturing into the amphitheater known as quite possibly the largest outdoor music arena in the entire United States, it may still be only twenty minutes after the doors opened but the place is already seemingly packed ! Aside from the musical aspect of the day there are ski jumps, bike trials and even a kayak demonstration that has already incurred a huge amount of audience interest.

As for the aforementioned music though it was 2nd Stage (otherwise known as the ‘Village Stage’) that kicked off the afternoon’s entertainment first with Jes Hudak being followed by Miami vocalist and keyboardist Gabe Dixon. Irish rockers Rubyhorse came next with Maroon 5 (part of the new rap underground of the late ‘90s) not far behind, but by now the Main Stage had opened up and had already revealed the alternative pop-rock/post-grunge band Silvercrush, the brilliant new Motown talent Remy Shand and converted Ohio State frat band O.A.R.

As we got to the 7.30pm point of the evening, Five For Fighting took to the Village Stage to close it out for the night. Combining lowdown rock with alternative folk, the guys provided a rousing set for the gathered throng to enjoy as they cooled off in the dusk temperatures. Lead singer and band originator John Ondrasik’s vocals were truly on top form here tonight as they collectively belted out hits like ’Bloody Mary (A Note to Apathy),’ ‘Michael Jordan’ and the second single off of America Town, ’Easy Tonight.’ But, of course, it was at the end of their set when they gave us the huge hit single ’Superman’ that we all got to finally hear what we had been awaiting the past forty minutes.

But, if we had thought that the evening was just going to be musically Sheryl Crow’s party piece then we had been seriously mistaken ! Because from the moment Train took the stage to the moment they reluctantly left it they brought forth one of the best performances that I have had the pleasure to witness in the past ten years in this business ! I kid you not. Train live these days is easily the musical equivalent to top class filet mignon or the most exquisite Godiva chocolate there could ever be. Put another way, the boys rock the tits off most other bands doing the live circuit these days ! And the reasoning, I hear you beg to know ?! Well, kicking the whole love affair off with the album cut ’She’s On Fire,’ the boys rocked out and on with ’Something More’ and ’Let It Roll’ before arriving at the door of one of the evenings finest musical highlights. As lead singer Patrick Monahan’s vocal tones began to wrap themselves around Page & Plant’s lyrics for the classic ’Ramble On,’ (Led Zeppelin II) it was suddenly time for the hairs on your arms and neck to stand up straight and pay attention ! Their version was just impeccable, so to the note and had the crowd instantly eating out of their hands.
Following it up with some more album tracks and the hit singles ’Meet Virginia’ and ’Drops of Jupiter,’ it was hard to see how the boys from San Francisco could possibly top anything they’d presented for an encore. But, top it and some they did as to the complete appreciation from the crowd, Train proceeded to rip through a 100% perfect rendition of the song they recently did on VH-1’s new ‘Icons’ series, the Aerosmith classic, ’Dream On.’ It was quite an incredible performance and so spot on that you could have sworn that Steven Tyler was backstage with a mic to hand aiding Monahan in his vocal quest for perfection. But, of course, this was solely Monahan’s voice and what a way to bring the Train finally into the station of outstanding adoration.

As the clock struck the 9.30pm show time, the crowd were still busy buying their beers, ending their cell phone calls and/or finding their seats as Sheryl Crow made her nondescript entrance. In all fairness though, the house lights were still on, the piped in music still playing some generic female vocalist and the stage lights were off completely ! But this is Crow all over. Not a tease, nor a overblown superstar with an ego the size of Barbara Streisand’s nose, Crow quietly strolls out on to the dimly lit stage, chats with her guitar tech, and with her back to the unwitting crowd, strums a few harmless chords on her bright red guitar.
Then, turning back to face her fans, her band now joining her, she begins to strum in earnest the intro to the album track ’Steve McQueen’ and in a virtual heartbeat the piped music dies, the house lights act as if they would during an electrical storm and Crow’s off and running. Wearing a really tight blue denim crop-top atop some extremely patriotic American Flag-designed leather pants and obligatory black cowboy boots, Crow rolls out the hits one after another (’Everyday is a Winding Road,’ ‘My Favorite Mistake,’ ‘C’mon C’mon’) before telling the gathered hordes that ”anything can happen on a night like this and normally does.” Indeed, audience communication is huge for Crow tonight, although her constant need to be found behind her mic stand and not prowl the stage does become a tad bit repetitive before the end.
And the hits just keep comin’ as songs like ’Leaving Las Vegas,’ ‘Strong Enough,’ ‘Lucky Kid,’ ‘A Change,’ and ’Different Kind’ come rolling over the crowd. Building up a sweat on her ultra tanned, ultra toned body, Crow continues to chat away to the gathering, at no point concerned for the so-called concert fundamentals of gratuitously long guitar-rock solos or hopeless cheesy covers. Bringing the set home she gave us ’All I Wanna Do,’ the current single ‘Soak Up The Sun’ and the rock out; and highly underrated as a crackin’ tune, ’There Goes The Neighborhood.’ Coming back to obey the constant bays of her fans, Crow then gave us one of her personal favorite album tracks from the new release C’mon C’mon, ’Safe & Sound’ before cranking out the only cover of the night (and definitely not a cheesy one at that), the emphatic, and spirited ’Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

Review and Live Photos By Russell A. Trunk