- Tracy Chapman, The Greek Theater, Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 26 – By Tony Gieske, 2000 The Hollywood Reporter
The way Tracy Chapman sang “Give Me One Good Reason,” you thought at first it was going to be a stone blues in the style of, oh, Mr. Cleanhead, or Jimmy Rushing, or Big Joe Turner, the way it was romping — except for the fact that she never shouts and she never misses a note.
Also, she has that pretty contralto voice, each note a morsel of something tender and tasty. But good for you!
All night long, she’d been applying her supple vocal cords to a rather limited range of songs that were either about lonely love or worldwide issues. The way she sang was not too loud, not too soft, not too dull, not too exciting. But on this tune she cut loose a little bit, riding a very adaptable rhythm section that rocked on out and brought the crowd to its feet.
And these guys had laid down an imaginative panoply of grooves for her earlier stuff.
“Talking ‘Bout a Revolution” asserted (with very little foundation) that the tables are finally starting to turn. So in addition to being a rerun of the Joan Baez era (whose style she often recalled), it was presumably out to lunch as far as the facts of life are concerned.
And there was a lot of other pop iconoclasm about how money is only paper and ink, and how you gotta stand and fight and hope. But whether she was taking that tack or whether she was begging forgiveness for having done so many things wrong she couldn’t be sure she could do anything right, Doug Pettibone and Steve Hunter on guitars, Patrick Warren on keyboards, Tim Landers on bass and Danny Fongheiser on drums provided a brawny underpinning of catchy rhythmic patterns, a little Bo Diddley here, a little reggae there.
Not that Chapman’s own guitar playing was behind the game. “We Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” which she sang and played all by herself on her hollow body acoustic, had a figure in the bass straight off a John Lee Hooker ballad, and she hung it right over the plate.
So for the ear, there was plenty of authenticity from the Chapman throat and the Chapman fingers. For the mind, however, she should remember that being real serious does not always make you real deep. Not that they notice that in these parts.