- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2003

When Sheryl Crow took the stage at Wolf Trap in Vienna Tuesday night, fans were more than ready for her. Not only had the crowd been eagerly awaiting her debut performance at the venue, but it also had been compelled to withstand a 45-minute set by opening act Joe Firstman and his four-piece band, which releases an album on Atlantic Records Aug. 12. Audience members had heard one too many times, “Hello, my name is Joe Firstman. Thank you for taking time to listen to me.”

Miss Crow began around 9 with “Steve McQueen,” a song from her most recent album, “C’mon, C’mon.” She evidently was extremely relaxed performing this number. Maybe too relaxed. She seemed as if she had sung it one too many times and could hardly wait to get past it and on to the next number.

Happily, her enthusiasm grew throughout the rest of the show, on songs such as “There Goes the Neighborhood,” “Favorite Mistake,” “C’mon C’mon” and “Leaving Las Vegas.”

She twitted fans about Internet piracy before performing her as-yet-unreleased cover of Cat Stevens’ “First Cut Is the Deepest.”

“We’re going to be playing some new songs you shouldn’t know unless you’ve been on some Web site and downloaded it illegally,” she said. “But I’m too old to know how to download. So you could be doing that, and I’d never know.”

An avid opponent of the war with Iraq, Miss Crow scattered small seedlings of pacifist wisdom throughout her show, starting with the song “Redemption Day.” As she sang, numerous quotes flashed on screens behind her, such as “That’s all nonviolence is — organized love, Joan Baez.” She also included comments from Buddha, Confucius, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Gandhi, John Lennon and Albert Einstein.

Drawing back from the brink of anything approaching Dixie Chicks-like provocation, Miss Crow followed the number with a new tune, “Light In Your Eyes,” which she explained by saying, “It’s been a confusing year for me. I have a TV like everyone else … There’s a lot of pain in the world. You have to seek into something spiritual. I’ll be praying for those leading us.”

This poignant moment didn’t last long. The boisterous crowd was on its feet for “If It Makes You Happy,” “A Change (Would Do You Good),” “All I Wanna Do,” “Soak Up the Sun” and “Every Day is a Winding Road.” She also performed “Picture” without the accompanying vocals of Kid Rock, with whom she recorded the duet. It didn’t have quite the same pizazz without him.

After this last segment of her set, she returned for two encores. The first was another anti-war song, “Let’s Get Free.” When fans couldn’t get enough, they called her out for a second time, and she sang “I Shall Believe,” ending the concert by singing, “Not everything is gonna be the way you think it ought to be/ It seems every time I try to make it right, it all comes down on me/ Please say honestly, you won’t give up on me, and I shall believe.”

After the almost two-hour concert, there weren’t many fans to be found who were inclined to give up on Sheryl Crow. Whether they believe in her politics or not, they apparently believe in her.

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