In fact, the graphics on those immense white squares were far more interesting to me than nearly anything she sang that night. Abstract, swirling circles became swaying trees became panning street maps of American cities, always moving and fancifully imaginative. Aside from one dreadfully “political” number accompanied by supposedly inspirational quotes by Gandhi, Teddy Roosevelt, and others, I was rarely bored by Crow’s time in the spotlight, though it did go on for too long certainly wasn’t what I had come expecting to see. Well-known popular favorites like “Soak Up the Sun” and “If It Makes You Happy” even offered the opportunity for a chummy and silly, if a bit hollow, sing-along.
Opener Mat Kearney (one “t”) started things off promptly at 7 PM with a completely undistinguished collection of U2/Coldplay-ish guitar chords and keyboard riffs strung together by remarkably verbose utterances that could have been quite interesting, had I been able understand more than two of every ten words. Yes, the amplification system of this particular concert had the unfortunate effect of drowning out lyrical subtleties in throbbing waves of sternum-shaking, low-end noise. Kearney could have yelled his way over it, as Crow and Mayer did later, but then that didn’t seem his style.
One of the weaknesses of multi-act shows is the downtime required for the changeovers. In this case, Crow took a full forty minutes to erect her massive projection screens and tune her string section before things were ready to resume after Kearney had exited the stage. Then, with a flash of light and no small amount of screaming from the thousands of adolescent girls in attendance, she began to sing… something that sounded very ordinary. Relieved of any pent-up enthusiasm for Crow’s performance, I began to notice the constantly changing images on the screens behind her.