|Nashville Tennessean||Would I lie to you? Annie was terrific
From guest concert reviewer Michael Schoenfeld, Vanderbilt vice chancellor and part-time WRVU-FM radio personality:
The standing-room only audience at the Ryman on Thursday night thought they were there for an Annie Lennox concert.
What they heard were several performers: an enchanting chanteuse whose solo piano version of Here Comes the Rain Again turned an '80s new wave anthem into a crowd-silencing torch song; a soul-drenched diva who, with her excellent backup singers, sang Sisters are Doing it for Themselves and meant it; and a strutting rocker with a tight band that raced through hits like Sweet Dreams and Would I Lie to You.
Lennox packed more versatility into a 90-minute show than most musicians do in a career. This is believed to be her first solo performance in Nashville.
It was worth the wait. In her brief on-stage comments, Annie remarked about how friendly everyone was in Nashville. Well, it's true. Y'all come back.
|The Erwin Record||Annie Lennox shines in Ryman's spotlight
More than 100 years after its founding and 60 years after Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium became famous as the ''Mother Church of Country Music,'' a 48-year-old Scottish lass reminded another sold-out crowd what so many legends before her have successfully done: Great music transcends cultures, genres and even time. On a stage still filled with the spirits of Roy Acuff, Hank Williams Sr., Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette, a confident Annie Lennox stood proud. Lennox brought her first-ever solo tour to the Ryman April 17, and she was both impressed and impressive.
''What a beautiful hall this is -- or is it a church,'' she asked a few numbers into her 19-song set. ''I think it's a little of both.'' It's not surprising, then, that Lennox felt at home. Either as one-half of the pop-rock duo Eurythmics or as an accomplished solo artist, Lennox has always seemed to be quite happy asking probing questions and providing enigmatic answers.
Her song selections criss-crossed a career that has spanned more than two decades. Hits from seven of her 11 albums -- including her solo projects ''Diva,'' ''Medusa'' and the soon-to-be-released ''Bare'' -- came to life or found new life during her 90-minute show.
''Who's That Girl?'' lost its New Wave synthesizers for a mostly acoustic sing-along, while ''Cold'' was stripped down to an aching torch song. ''Here Comes the Rain Again,'' Eurythmics' lush and pulsating hit from 1984, became a solo piano gig for Lennox, and she reinterpreted the song with gentle beauty. She and her three fine back-up singers moved easily into a confident version of ''Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves'' that lost nothing from the absence of Aretha Franklin. A rollicking ''I Need A Man'' had Lennox growling ''I don't need a heartbreaker ... a two-timing time-taker ... muscle-bound cheap skate.'' That performance alone gave a whole new dimension to a hall where Wynette and other country icons once implored women to ''Stand By Your Man.'' And still it can't be forgotten that all this comes from the woman who became famous in the ''Video Age'' 20 years ago by cropping her hair short, donning a man's suit and singing ''Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).'' The questions raised by ''Sweet Dreams'' -- no, not about gender but about relationships and the human conditions of love and loss -- were not lost on the four new songs Lennox unveiled.
''Wonderful'' moved effortlessly from feelings of anguish to anger. ''Can't you see my heart burning in my hand?'' she demands. ''Do you want me or do you not?'' A grooving ''Bitter Pill'' had Lennox continuing her rant 'n' roll by insisting that ''it means nothing to me.'' On ''A Thousand Beautiful Things,'' Lennox seemed to be searching and longing for something to make sense of everything that is senseless. Optimism wins in the end, though. ''So light me up like the sun to cool down with your rain,'' she sings. ''I never want to close my eyes again.'' Of Lennox's new tunes, though, none matched the splendor and power of ''Pavement Cracks.'' Enveloped in a sadness as thick as concrete, the song moves along with a clip-clop beat that belies its lyrics: ''The love don't show up in the pavement cracks. All my watercolors fade to black. I'm going nowhere and I'm 10 steps back. All my dreams have fallen flat.''
Over the years, so many of Lennox's songs have interspersed desire and despair. It is, perhaps, where she's at her best -- somewhere out there in the world lost and searching. All those great country songs of heartache and pain that filled the halls of the Ryman for decades came alive again in the words and music of a woman normally far removed from Nashville, Tenn. To her final standing ovation of the night, a smiling Lennox said jubilantly, ''I won't forget you. I'll be back.'' Somewhere in the rafters of that old ''church,'' where the notes of grand ballads still linger, great music of yesterday and today