- LIVE: Tracy Chapman – By Andrea Chiu, ChartAttack.com Staff, August 01, 2000
On the Rosie O’Donnell Show, Tracy Chapman laughed about her appearance on Sesame Street where she poked Elmo in the eye with her guitar. I was hoping for the same kind of humourous story telling when she took the stage at Toronto’s Massey Hall last Friday. Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to be in the mood for chit chat. Instead, she immediately dove into her set, opening with “It’s Okay” off her latest album, Telling Stories.
The quiet songwriter played a good part of the new material including the stunning “Unsung Psalm,” a song she wrote about someone who questions if they’ve lived a good life. It would be one of the very few songs Tracy would talk about throughout the course of the evening until she stopped to assure her eager audience that the fan favourite, “Fast Car,” is not autobiographical.
Although her set was a good mix of both old and new songs, Tracy could have varied the tempo, but instead left the majority of her few faster paced songs to the end. After introducing her band members, she went into the thought-provoking single, “Telling Stories” and a rockin’ rendition of the otherwise boring “Give Me One Reason” before leaving the stage.
The band returned and quickly treated the loving crowd to a cover of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” and ended the evening with a beautiful performance of “Amazing Grace,” which was only complimented by the legendary venue.
The diehard fans had all and all a good musical evening. No surprises, no hitches, just good clean fun for the folk-rock music fans.
- Tracy sticks to her guns – By Mykella Van Cooten, JAM! Music
TRACY CHAPMAN, Massey Hall, Toronto – Friday, July 28, 2000 — Folk singer Tracy Chapman didn’t try too hard to satisfy concert-goers at Massey Hall on Friday. Apparently, she didn’t have to.
Instead she started right into the set with almost no warning, ignoring the ferocious applause. From the beginning it felt like a private gig in her basement, as though the audience wasn’t even there.
Yet all in attendance silently went along with the performance, though they could have gotten the same experience from listening to a CD at home on a hi-tech sound system.
In fact, it was impossible to tell if Chapman really wanted to be there, until she finally spoke to explain her sixth selection, “Unsung Psalm.”
“This song is about a person — not necessarily me — who wished they’d lived right,” she murmured with a shy smile. Amazingly the crowd went wild, honouring the fact that she decided to speak at all.
The tune, from her latest album, “Telling Stories”, gave a glimpse at why they love her so. It reminded everyone of her true appeal: as a songwriter capable of illuminating a gritty picture of despair and self-inflicted alienation, while still summoning a glimmer of hope.
But after the novelty of the new material wore off, the show again fell into a lull, as Chapman diligently trekked through an endless stream of melancholic material.
She stuck to the reliable reaction-getters — the a cappella “Behind the Wall,” “Promise,” “She’s Got Her Ticket,” and “Fast Car” — which she interspersed with new songs, like the racial anthem, “Nothing Yet.”
And still, no one said a word. The crowd just waited – for her to breathe, to change her one of 4 guitars, to cue her band.
“Sometimes the band isn’t really sure what we’re gonna do,” she said, referring to her last-minute whispered instructions to change song arrangements. “Sometimes I don’t know.”
And all this confusion showed, disturbing the potentially peaceful flow.
Yet the fans waited. Then they listened, singular heads bobbing in silent appreciation, leaning into themselves in introspection, as a room of almost 2,000 others did the same.
Eventually they knew it would end, and they’d have leave their cocoons and face the glare of the streets again. So she played what we’d all been waiting for: “Give Me One Reason.”
The band ripped through the tune at full force for almost 10 minutes. Jazzman Steve Hunter was the show-stopper, riffing on acoustic guitar while Chapman complemented the proceedings and played the lyrics with her gravelly, versatile voice.
Simply put, she played their emotions — and they liked it. After a pensive, plodding, sometimes heart-rending set, this long-waited climax made the audience jump to its feet, cheering, “Tracy, Tracy” through two encores.
One woman even held up a lighter in the historic venue and waved her arms to Chapman’s encore rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
The Massey Hall show was not for those new to Tracy Chapman or anyone who wanted a spectacle. It was for the simple folk-music lover who could appreciate its bare bones, take-it-like-it-is, one-woman show. Most of all, Chapman’s show was played for her cult-like followers.
And it worked. As one mesmerized fan said to his partner while leaving the building, “I want to follow wherever she goes.”