THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER/REUTERS: Concert Review | Wed March 26, 2003
By DEBORAH WILKER
(MIAMI) — Will next year’s Grammys be the Annie Lennox Show? Based on the intoxicating new music she’s unveiling and the typical award show formula – classy veteran plus cool new songs equals trophy haul – Lennox will be tough to deny. Throw in the Clive Davis-factor and it’s a slam-dunk.
Lennox was so clearly on top of her game opening night of this short small-hall tour, it’s difficult to believe she’s been away at all. The sumptuous new songs she premiered are from the forthcoming J Records release “Bare,” due June 10 – her first all-new solo set since 1992’s “Diva.”
Although Lennox did release the cover set “Medusa” in 1995 and reunited briefly with Dave Stewart for a Eurythmics outing in 1999, she’s been mostly on the sidelines for years, living quietly overseas, raising her daughters and writing music when the mood hit.
While her new show is a potent reminder of the musical trails she has blazed, it’s hardly a nostalgia-fest. Sexy and slim (perhaps too thin) in a spangled top and tight pants, this 48-year-old mother of two moved seamlessly between the old and new, milking notes and striking exotic poses as if she’s been onstage continuously, not at home packing lunches.
With a voice that remains among the most unconventional in pop music, Lennox took command with oldies like “Would I Lie To You?” – punctuated by a Jagger-style arrangement and staccato dancing. She appeared just as confident on “1,000 Beautiful Things,” the most haunting of her new tracks. She followed with another heartbreaker – 1995’s “No More ‘I Love You’s,” and by then it was just one spontaneous ovation after another.
Testament to the manner in which she held this crowd was that the untested material never once ignited the usual snack-bar rush. There was rapt appreciation from the moment she launched into the pulsing “Pavement Cracks,” during which her five-piece band flawlessly merged her synth roots with current, melodious dance lines. She quickly switched gears for another wonderful new song, this one called “Honestly,” about “the turmoil of overthinking.”
Lennox accompanied herself on piano (“unprecedented,” she said) for a stripped-down “Here Comes the Rain Again,” then called her three marvelous backup singers over to create an En Vogue effect for “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.”
A minimalist set consisting of little more than a massive scrim displaying brief statements such as “Solo 2003,” “Welcome” and “Pray for Peace” provided a fitting backdrop. Closing with the Eurythmics’ signature piece “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and the languid “Why,” Lennox brought the evening to a perfect conclusion.