2007-10-10 Annie Lennox - Annie Lennox Sings - Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium - San Francisco - The USA


Artist : Annie Lennox

Date : 2007-10-10

Tour Name : Annie Lennox Sings

Country : The USA

Town : San Francisco

Venue : Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium






San Jose MercuryReview: Annie Lennox thrills S.F. crowd
By Chad Jones
Contra Costa Times

Article Launched:10/11/2007 10:44:42 AM PDT

Sweet dreams are made of Annie Lennox.
Quirky, inspired and inspiring, Lennox spent the '80s as a techno diva with Eurythmics, launched into a huge, successful solo career in the '90s and can now do pretty much anything she wants.

Her output has been slim. Since her first solo album, 1992's "Diva," Lennox has produced an album of covers (1995's "Medusa"), a wrenching collection of post-divorce balladry (2003's "Bare") and the newly released "Songs of Mass Destruction."

Four albums in 15 years isn't exactly prolific. True, Lennox did win an Academy Award for co-writing "Into the West" from the third "Lord of the Rings" movie, but that was just one song.

It's a good thing, then, that Lennox's albums are meaty enough to sustain her fans for years. The new one, which is strong and grim in equal measure, should get us through to at least 2009.

Lennox tours even less frequently than she records, which is why her stop at San Francisco's Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium Wednesday night was such a treat. Her Annie Lennox Sings tour is only about a month long, and she's hitting a mere 16 cities.

We got her on the second stop of the tour, and her energy and enthusiasm were extraordinary.

She didn't waste any time trying to coax fans into the new material. She opened with a full-throttle "No More 'I Love You's'," which has the great first line: "I used to be lunatic from the gracious days," and slammed right into the driving "Little Bird." She kept the momentum going with "Walking on Broken Glass" before slamming on the brakes with the first surprise of the evening, the world-weary "Pavement Cracks" from "Bare."

With lyrics like "Everything I wanna be comes crashing down on me," the song was but a prelude to the near-apocalyptic depression of "Dark Road," the first single from the new album, which sings of "the fires of destruction still burning in my dreams."

With such angst and emotion swirling through the darkness (and the voluminous stage smoke), the crowd should have been weeping and burning black candles. But this is Annie Lennox, the indestructible diva who traffics in depression to the delight of all those who love her.

And indeed, this crowd loved her, adored her, swooned for her every dramatic gesture.

It's all about that voice -- soul deep and so muscular it can pummel you or, just as easily, carry you away.

At 52, Lennox has lost none of her luster as a performer, from her short-cropped platinum-blond hair to her tasteful black, sleeveless mini-dress with black pants. She looked gorgeous. And her voice is as sturdy and powerful as ever.

After nearly smashing the room with the explosive "Smithereens" from the new album, Lennox slowed things down as she accompanied herself on piano through a tender Eurythmics hit, "Here Comes the Rain Again," followed by "A Thousand Beautiful Things" and a rousing "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves."

The piano disappeared when she launched into "Cold," a heartbroken lament sung with such force it became the equivalent of a pop spiritual. The soulful tone burst wide open with "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)," which Lennox and her five-piece band and two backup singers turned into full-on gospel number.

"Ghosts in My Machine," the most insistent song on the new album, followed with a taste of blues to start -- "I've seen too much, I know too much, I hurt too much, I feel too much, I dread too much, I dream too much" -- before it erupted into a percussive, hard-driving expression of existential pain.

The final two songs of the main set were surprising choices -- fun and impossible to resist, but surprising. "When Tomorrow Comes" and "Thorn in My Side," both from the 1986 Eurythmics album "Revenge," proved to be a whole lot more fun in concert -- with everyone in the auditorium up and dancing -- than th
San Fran ChronicleAnnie Lennox knows how to play to her crowd. At a capacity show at the Nob Hill Masonic Center on Wednesday, the former Eurythmics singer appeared onstage singing the dramatic "No More I Love You's" in front of a huge screen showing the 1995 video for the song, starring a bevy of drag queens frolicking around in stage makeup and tutus.

Although the 52-year-old mother of two sends a call out for Mr. Right on her new song "Womankind," she has spent three decades messing with peoples' perceptions of sexuality by engaging in an elaborate game of dress-up.

In the early days of MTV, she appeared in Eurythmics videos with closely cropped red hair and tailored men's suits, throwing in the occasional Elvis wig just for kicks. She called her 1992 solo debut "Diva" and appeared as a glitzy Las Vegas showgirl on the cover, only to return to the same spot on 2003's "Bare" without makeup or a shirt but with a dog collar around her neck. And it started even before that: She reportedly played Peter Pan in her grade school's theater production.

Lennox closed her set at the Nob Hill Masonic Center with a grand rendition of her most popular hit, "Why," a song that, after an hour of soulful vamps, chilly ballads and dynamic material from her fourth solo album, "Songs of Mass Destruction," sent everyone home on the verge of tears. It was no wonder.

Like its indefinable singer, who has sold 80 million albums worldwide, the song works on many levels, from a silent hymn for the emotionally impoverished to a bold anthem for anyone who has had to come out to a loved one. "And this is how I feel," she sang. "Do you know how I feel?" Of course we do.

Launching her first American tour in four years with a slick five-piece band and two commanding backup singers, Lennox wore a sparkly little black dress over plain black trousers. Even though the old videos, which seemed to appear every time she dipped into her rich back catalog, provided a distracting game of "then and now," she looked ravishing.

Lennox put showstopping exclamation marks on the stomping choruses of songs like "Walking on Broken Glass" and "Thorn in My Side." But it was the ballads that gave her soulful voice room to take flight, especially during the concert's exquisite centerpiece, "Cold," which came accompanied with an otherwise useless slide show depicting pictures of frost, ice and snow.

Save for a lively "Sweet Dreams" that once again saw Lennox slyly commune with her core fan base ("Keep your head up!/ Hold your head up!"), most of the Eurythmics stuff, including the teeth-gnashing "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves," was relegated to a cabaret-style piano suite.

Instead, Lennox used a good chunk of the show to highlight material from "Songs of Mass Destruction," in which she seems to have traded innovation for cliches: The world is doomed, true love is elusive, and time is fleeting, or to quote the first single, "Dark Road," "Seems you never realize a good thing till it's gone."

While no one would fault her for devoting a major part of the show to raising HIV awareness in Africa with the extravagant "Sing" (which on record includes backing vocals from the likes of Madonna, Melissa Etheridge and Faith Hill), some of the other tunes proved as ponderous as the album's title, none more so than "Smithereens," on which she repeatedly declared, "Everybody is an island to themselves."

Part of the blame can be laid on the album's producer, Glen Ballard, last seen pushing Alanis Morissette and the Dave Matthews Band over the ham-fisted edge. But if there's one thing Lennox should have learned by now, it's that she does her best work when she's smudging reality.


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