2003-04-29 Annie Lennox - Bare - Royce Hall - Los Angeles - The USA


Artist : Annie Lennox

Date : 2003-04-29

Tour Name : Bare

Country : The USA

Town : Los Angeles

Venue : Royce Hall






Orange County RegisterSince her initial breakthrough 20 summers ago - when the
sinisterly sexy "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" helped
reintroduce androgyny to rock - Annie Lennox has been an
international champion of the lovelorn. With motherly concern
born out of her own difficult times, she has shared in the elation
of new romance, empathized with sadness when it fell apart,
then emboldened her believers to try again.
That isn't the first thing that comes to most minds when they
think of Lennox, of course. Her outrageous fashions (so crucial
in catapulting her to success) and new-wave roots often have
clouded her importance as a songwriter.
But think back to the rallying cry of her first hit: "Hold your head
up/ Movin' on/ Keep your head up/ Movin' on." Now recall some
other choice lyrics from her first decade in the spotlight. "Dumb
hearts get broken just like china cups/ The language of love has
left me broken on the rocks." "Since you've abandoned me/ My
whole life has crashed." A personal favorite: "Dying is easy/ It's
living that scares me to death."
All of those reverberated with renewed purpose at UCLA's
sold-out Royce Hall, where Lennox stopped Tuesday night on
her first solo tour. The limited outing is designed to showcase
material from "Bare," her first album of fresh songs since her
1992 smash, "Diva," and both albums emerged from breakups:
Where its predecessor was built upon the ashes of Eurythmics,
the new collection (due June 10) is an unflinching look at
Lennox's recent divorce from filmmaker Uri Fruchtmann.
At least we gather it's unflinching from the four selections she
presented, particularly "A Thousand Beautiful Things" ("It's hard
to see the glass is half full, not half empty"), "Pavement Cracks"
("All my dreams have fallen flat") and "Bitter Pill" ("How it makes
me choke"). As with much of Lennox's work, however, such
frankness comes disguised in delectable pop; "Pavement
Cracks," for instance, churned from a ponderous, Sting-like
beginning to a soulfully stomping conclusion. Get caught up in
the sound and you might have missed the message.
Yet even those enraptured merely by her dressed-down
demeanor - lots of long black clothes, a cap covering her
close-shorn platinum hair for much of the 90-minute set - well,
they must have noticed the night's overall theme: heartbreak.
Never before has Lennox structured a show so tightly, so
perfectly, each song a piece in a larger mosaic about love's
pleasure and pain.
She began with a defiant lecture: "Money Can't Buy It." Then wove
in other "Diva" greats: "Walking on Broken Glass," "Little Bird"
and, in a strikingly sparse new arrangement, "Cold." She left
room for two telling covers from "Medusa": "No More 'I Love
You's,'" naturally, but also the bleary hopefulness of Neil Young's
"Don't Let It Bring You Down."
And, of course, there were Eurythmics tunes, ranging from
downbeat (a superb solo piano version of "Here Comes the
Rain Again") to rollicking (a finale featuring ripping renditions of
"Would I Lie to You?" "Missionary Man" and "I Need a Man"). To
conclude: "Why," its I'll-show-you theatricality played as much for
sorrow as strength.
Throughout the performance, Lennox proved every bit as
powerful a vocalist at 48 as she was years ago, nailing high
notes to illustrate she still can while reinterpreting others for
meatier impact. Her reward for such seemingly effortless work:
an ecstatic response from an industry- heavy crowd, including
several spontaneous standing ovations for new material.
Maybe she would have gotten those anyway, this being a rare
visit. But it felt like a genuine outpouring of wowed admiration -
just one more in
Variety.comWith so many of the current crop of "electroclash" bands using the
Eurythmics (among others) as a template, the time is ripe for Annie
Lennox to return. As part of an intimate theater tour
previewing "Bare" (J), her first album of original material in more
than a decade, Lennox left her imitators in the dust, replacing the
chill electronics of her 1980s work for the womanly, flesh and blood
ache of soul music.
Stepping onto the stage in black pants, a black leather coat and a
black watch cap, looking like the world's most stylish second story
man, Lennox delivered a program that was as sublimely dark and sexy
as her outfit.

The songs are draped in rich layers of keyboards and synths, with
drummer Steve Barney and bassist Paul Turner hanging just behind the
beat. It's a recipe for torchy elegance, and the songs certainly
have the rueful undertone of cabaret. But Lennox, her voice strong
but tart, holding the memory of every disappointment and lonely
night, tends to phrase in front of the beat, pulling the songs
forward. Together, they generate a sensual urgency that's resolved
when the songs kick into high gear. "Legend in My Living Room" nods
toward Marvin Gaye's classic '70s work (down to the "mercy me"
chorus), while "Pavement Cracks" starts out smooth but end up with a
jittery Arabic refrain.

It's blue-eyed soul written for and by adults; even material from
her Eurythmics days is re-imagined. "Here Comes the Rain" is turned
into an abject ballad; "Sisters (Are Doing It for Themselves)"
becomes gospel testimony as Lennox trades verses with her backing
singers, and "Who's That Girl" could have been an early Gamble and
Huff production. Even "Sweet Dreams" is rearranged, with guitarist
Tony Remy taking the opening riff.

As if to prove she hasn't forsaken her roots, for the encore, Lennox
comes out in full rock mode. "I Need a Man" and "Missionary Man" get
swaggering, full throated readings, with Lennox lustily swinging her
mikestand, leaving the stage with a triumphant flourish. Returning
for a final "Why" she stood, her eyes rimmed with tears, expressing
gratitude for the aud's ovation. The song might end with her
moaning "you don't know how I feel," but at the end of the two-hour
show, everyone felt the same -- emotionally wrung out, but satisfied.
Dailybulletin.comThe woman who sang "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)' made her own on stage at UCLA's Royce Hall Tuesday night.
Before a packed and adoring audience, Annie Lennox turned a pop concert into a night of testimonies, befitting the sweet soul music that has influenced the singer-songwriter.

With her still potently expressive voice turning from a near sob to a scream one minute, from sweetness to raw power the next, Lennox gave her 90-minute concert a dramatic sweep. Backed by a five-piece band and three singers, Lennox took the stage dressed in a black leather jacket and wool cap, both of which she shed during the evening. At times, the 48-year-old former half of the Eurythmics strutted the stage a la Mick Jagger; other times, she acted out songs almost like a mime but without seeming silly. Throughout the evening, Lennox threw herself emotionally into each number, a refreshing change from the ersatz soul divas that crowd the pop world.
Lennox, whose new album, "Bare,' comes out June 10, was on tour for the first time in years. (Her last tour was a Eurythmics reunion with Dave Stewart in 2000.) Her last album, "Medusa,' was released in 1995 and it was composed of other people's songs, including the hit "No More I Love You's.'

Walking out, Lennox received a standing ovation before singing a note. In the audience was record mogul Clive Davis ("Bare' comes out on his J Records, and she dedicated a song to him) as well as rock 'n' roll legends Rod Stewart and Robbie Robertson. A little undermiked at first, she nevertheless quickly took command of the stage. Throughout the evening, she interspersed tunes from "Bare,' including the gorgeous "A Thousand Beautiful Things,' but even when she returned to familiar terrain, she was still able to evoke new twists. Sitting down at the piano with a minimum of backup, the originally up-tempo synthesized "Here Comes the Rain Again' was slowed down. Lennox drew out every bit of emotion, giving poignancy to the question "Is it raining with you?' that wasn't in the original.

Later, Lennox and her three backup singers teamed for a stirring rendition of "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves,' a feminist anthem she originally recorded with Aretha Franklin. Other well-known songs included "Walking on Broken Glass' and the aforementioned "No More I Love You's.'

For her first encore, she dove into her Eurythmics days with rousing versions of "Sweet Dreams,' "Missionary Man' and "I Need a Man.' For her second encore, Lennox became more reflective with "Why,' a song of shifting feelings with the lines, "Some things are better left unsaid/But they still turn me inside out.'

In that song and throughout the evening, she delivered with a soulfulness that few singers show on stage these days.!end!


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