|Hollywood Reporter||ANNIE LENNOX -- Will next year's Grammys be the Annie Lennox Show? Based on the intoxicating new music she's unveiling and the typical award show formula (classy veteran plus cool new songs equals trophy haul), Lennox will be tough to deny. Throw in the Clive Davis X-factor and it's a slam-dunk.
On tour for the first time in ages, Lennox was so clearly on top of her game opening night of this short small-hall tour, it's difficult to believe she's been away at all. The sumptuous new songs she premiered are from the forthcoming J Records release 'Bare', due June 10 -- her first all-new solo set since 1992's 'Diva'. Although Lennox did release the cover set 'Medusa' in 1995 and reunited briefly with Dave Stewart for a Eurythmics outing in 1999, she's been mostly on the sidelines for years, living quietly overseas, raising her daughters and writing music when the mood hit. While her new show is a potent reminder of the musical trails she has blazed, it's hardly a nostalgia-fest. Sexy and slim (perhaps too thin) in a spangled top and tight pants, this 48-year-old mother of two moved seamlessly between the old and new, milking notes and striking exotic poses as if she's been onstage continuously, not at home packing lunches. With a voice that remains among the most unconventional in pop music, Lennox took command with oldies like 'Would I Lie to You?' -- punctuated by a Jagger-style arrangement and staccato dancing. She appeared just as confident on '1,000 Beautiful Things', the most haunting of her new tracks. She followed with another heartbreaker -- 1995's 'No More 'I Love You's', and by then it was just one spontaneous ovation after another.
Testament to the manner in which she held this crowd was that the untested material never once ignited the usual snack-bar rush. There was rapt appreciation from the moment she launched into the pulsing 'Pavement Cracks', during which her five-piece band flawlessly merged her synth roots with current, melodious dance lines. She quickly switched gears for another wonderful new song, this one called 'Honestly', about 'the turmoil of overthinking'. Lennox accompanied herself on piano ('unprecedented', she said) for a stripped-down 'Here Comes the Rain Again', then called her three marvelous backup singers over to create an En Vogue effect for 'Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves'. A minimalist set consisting of little more than a massive scrim displaying brief statements such as 'Solo 2003', 'Welcome' and 'Pray for Peace' provided a fitting backdrop. Closing with the Eurythmics' signature piece 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)' and the languid 'Why', Lennox brought the evening to a perfect conclusion." (Deborah Wilker, The Hollywood Reporter)
|Miami Herald||ANNIE LENNOX DAZZLES IN GUSMAN PERFORMANCE -- It must be diva-vs.-diva week across the U.S.A. On Tuesday night, Celine Dion debuted her big, budget-busting gamble of a show at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. On Wednesday night, and with just a little less fanfare, Annie Lennox premiered her new tour at the Gusman in downtown Miami, the first date of a highly anticipated 18-city tour.
No doubt the adoring, capacity crowd here believed they had their money on the right icon as they greeted the first shadowed glimpse of Lennox as if she were a hero returned from war. And Lennox -- who hasn't released an album since Medusa in 1995 -- didn't prove them wrong, turning in a controlled yet soulful set that showed why Lennox -- along with her silent partner, Dave Stewart -- galloped away from the new-wave pack and became stars in the '80s as The Eurythmics.
What has always been Lennox's appeal is her sense of opposites, her meshing of Euro-cool with American warmth, continental class with R&B sass. This was evident from the opening moment of the show when the audiece was greeted with a simple ''WELCOME'' on a large screen (no standard-issue, rock-and-roll war cry of 'how ya doin', Miami?'' from this woman) followed by Lennox launching into her gritty brand of pop/R&B. She maintains a certain distance, not speaking much at all until halfway through the set. Instead, she mostly let the songs speak for her and they spoke volumes. She and her excellent eight-piece band (including three backup singers) performed several new tracks from the yet-to-be released Bare, such as the haunting Honesty (during which a simple effect of a chain of lights hanging from the ceiling added a nice touch), the wistful 1000 Beautiful Things, and the R&B stomper, Wonderful.
But, as expected, she hopscotched over various parts of her career and it was the classics that this crowd -- who probably came of age to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) -- wanted to hear. A kicking version of Walking on Broken Glass and a torrid take on Cold brought the audience to its feet. Yet the best moments occurred when Lennox sent the band away (and the screen above them said ''PAUSE''), she addressed the crowd (``What a beautiful theater!,'' she exclaiemd), and asked for help during the next segment as she was going to have to play piano and sing at the same time. This bit of demure humanity seemed a little at odds with her previous, hard-hitting persona but it was most welcome.
Then she launched into a beautiful version of The Eurythmics' Here Comes the Rain Again, probably sparking some fans to ask, ''Uh, who needs Dave Stewart?'' Her singers -- Carol Kenyon, Beverly Skeete and Claudia Fontaine -- joined her for a rousing take on Lennox's duet with the Queen of Soul, Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves. And probably some fans asked, ''Who needs Aretha Franklin?'' Well, maybe not, but it was a stirring version. More of the hits followed: a blissful Who's That Girl?, a wiry Sweet Dreams, and rocking renditions of Would I Lie to You? (during which she gave up all pretense of staying cool and laid on her back and kicked her feet), Missionary Man and I Need a Man. By the end, if Lennox had any opening night, back-on-the-road jitters, they weren't showing. Who would have thought that the singer who first came to our attention in a no-hit band called The Tourists would be commanding crowds more than 20 years later? After a burst of ecstastic applause, Lennox said, ''I wouldn't mind living in Miami.'' No doubt she'd find a warm welcome. (C.Darling, Miami Herald)