2021Deer Valley Concert Series: Sheryl Crow
Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe
The Deer Valley Concert Series is something I look forward to every year. It’s nice to get up to Park City where it’s a little cooler. Set upon a grassy hill that turns into a ski slope in the winter, lined with trees and a gorgeous view of the valley. It’s a perfect place for a concert. Of course, there were no concerts at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. This year the series was condensed. Things concert-wise didn’t really open up until the end of July so there were only five shows this summer.
While the 2021 Deer Valley Concert Series may have lacked in the number of shows they were able to put on, they definitely compensated with extremely talented artists. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats, Indigo Girls, and two nights of Dark Star Orchestra filled up the summer sky with beautiful music. The series closed with the immensely talented icon, Sheryl Crow.
Is there anyone on earth that hasn’t heard a Sheryl Crow song? I kind of doubt it. There was a time when you could turn on the radio and one of her songs would be on. That time was in 1993 until, well, now really. It’s amazing the string of hits and the years of success Sheryl Crow has had.
The crowd was huge at Deer Valley, and the buzz was tangible. Sheryl walked out to an excited audience. There was no opener. So Sheryl would have to get the crowd going herself. She’s a pro. She walked to the mic and said, “This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no country club either. This is Park City!”. She started off with one of her biggest hits “All I Wanna Do”. Good move. Then she switched it up to incorporate where she was. She had the audience for the rest of the night. As the song got going she stated that the audience was probably too young to know that song, seeing as it’s her first monstrous hit.
The hit parade kept marching along with well-known songs like “Every day is a Winding Road”, “A Change Would Do You Good” “Leaving Las Vegas” and, “Strong Enough”. Just hit after hit to start off the show. There was an interesting percolation happening with this audience. After Each hit, the people around me would get more and more excited to hear another song they loved.
After being blasted with so many hits, Crow gave us a moment to come up for air. She shared a song that she had performed with one of my favorite songwriters, Jason Isbell. It’s a lesser known Bob Dylan song called “Everything Is Broken”. I made a mental note to listen to the Dylan version when I got to the car after the show. It’s a song with a great groove. The arrangement from Crow and Isbell is quite different from Dylan’s. The song definitely had the audience clapping along and bobbing their heads.
Sheryl made a dedication to her next song that gained a chuckle from the crowd. She stated that she was going to play this song for all the guys she didn’t marry. She then broke into her hit song, “My Favorite Mistake”. I watched as the audience looked at each other and laughed. Many seeming to relate to the message of the song.
Crow masterfully weaved her way through the set sharing stories and performing songs from as far back as her first album to songs from her acclaimed and self claimed final album, Threads. One song from that album, “Cross Creek” was a song I particularly enjoyed.
What could have been an awkward moment in the show was turned into a really funny highlight due to Sheryl Crow’s years of performing and dealing/ engaging with overzealous fans. Two men, let’s call them, Rob and Mark. We’ll call them that because well, those are their names. As Sheryl Crow was about to begin her next song, they walked up to the front of the stage to take a selfie with Crow in the background. She joked, “No pictures please”. The men started to scoot off when Crow called them back. She stated that it took a lot of nerve to walk to the front of the venue to do that. She wasn’t exactly giving them a compliment. I’d say it was more of a rib.
Everything she said was in a very light-hearted tone and the audience laughed along with the now semi embarrassed men. She stated that she felt like she was now performing at a wedding or a Bat Mitzvah. She proceeded to give Mark and Rob their selfie with her in the background. The audience cheered. For her! And the now sheepish men walked back to their seats. Crow then dedicated her next song to had the nerve to come up here and get a selfie. The audience was excited when they recognized Crow’s cover of the Cat Stevens classic, “The First Cut is the Deepest”. When the song was finished I’d say it was given the biggest ovation of the night. So far.
So much of this concert gave off the vibe that things were normal in the world. There were beach balls bouncing throughout the crowd, the occasional scent of weed would pass through the air, and people seemed relaxed and enjoying themselves. Of course, we know that the world is a little crazy right now. But it was nice to forget about it for a little while.
A fan had a sign requesting that Sheryl Crow and her band. Her amazing band that is. Wow! What an ensemble of truly accomplished musicians. Anyway, the fan-requested that Crow play “There Goes the Neighborhood”. She told the fan that she’d play if for a dollar. I don’t know if that song is played regularly or not. This was my very first time seeing Sheryl Crow in concert. So either this fan got so lucky that this song was on the setlist, or it’s always played and the sign wasn’t necessarily needed. Regardless, Sheryl Crow did play “There Goes the Neighborhood”.
I noticed a shift in the audience. It really started at “The First Cut is the Deepest”. But once “…Neighborhood” was played, I felt like people were ready. Ready to move. Ready to really let loose. The audience up to this point was really receptive but other than those fans at the top of the hill, there wasn’t a lot of movement going on.
But then the guitar chords to “If It Makes You Happy” rang throughout the trees and the hill and people flew to their feet. If I had to choose, I’d say this is my favorite Sheryl Crow hit. Judging by how the crowd was reacting, I wasn’t alone in this sentiment.
I honestly don’t think I’ve seen anything like this. It was like a switch flipped in the entire audience. We went from a mellow, relaxed concert on the hill to a frenzied dancing and singing crowd. It blew my mind. There was even a rush of the stage. From what I could see, a rope dropped leaving an opening to the front of the stage. Excited fans saw an opportunity and went for it. All of a sudden there were hundreds of people up by the stage having the time of their lives. I wasn’t sure what Crow made of this new situation. She didn’t seem scared. She didn’t seem upset. Crow just seemed to embrace the relocation of the audience and had fun with it all.
Now, this might have been a concern if it was a different genre of music. But it seemed pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to get violent or out of control. It was just a big party. No one was trying to get in trouble or stage dive or anything over the top. I couldn’t help but wonder where Rob and Mark were at this point.
Fans were singing at the top of their voices. They were actually helping Crow. As the song reached its climax the altitude was starting to get to her. She went back by the drum riser and took sucked in some much-needed oxygen from a small tank. She made it back to the mic to finish the song. The audience roared louder than it had all night. I’d say they were twice as loud as they had ever been at any other point in the show.
The energy level was only elevated when Crow followed that huge hit with another major hit, “Soak Up the Sun”. Where had this been all night? Don’t get me wrong. The crowd was never dead. And the show was excellent throughout. I just can’t wrap my head around how quickly it changed into a huge dance party. I expected these songs to go over well. But the audience was giving their all. Maybe they knew it was the end of the concert and Monday was coming quick so they knew it was time to let it all out. I know I’m totally overthinking this. Bottom line, it was awesome. The altitude was still getting to Crow a little, but she pushed through and finished the song strong.
Sheryl Crow and her band returned to the stage after encore break. She joked, well, semi-joked with the audience saying, “How the hell do you all live with this altitude?! I’m either old or really out of shape!” Well, she’s obviously neither. But the altitude in Park City is no joke!
Crow then began her encore with her song from the Cars soundtrack, Real Gone. The dancing, singing and good times continued. This is generally a time when some concertgoers make their way to the parking lot. While there were a few, it was significantly less than what I’ve seen in the past. People just wanted to stay and party. And party they did.
The night ended on an uplifting note. The more subdued, “I Shall Believe”. Many audience members returned to their seats, while others stayed standing waving their arms in the air, some with their phones lit up. Crow stated, “I believe people are good. Even when they have a bad day” She then started singing “What the World Needs Now is Love”. She encouraged the audience to join her. “Wanna sing with me?” Of course everybody did. It was a beautiful way to end a beautiful evening.
The 2021 Deer Valley Concert Series ended on a powerful, upbeat, and inspiring note. I have always loved Sheryl Crow’s voice. But if you haven’t had the chance to hear it in person, I would encourage seeking out that opportunity. At any altitude, it’s a voice that should be heard live.