- More Than One Reason – By: Kate Bennett, The Santa Barbara Independent, June 26, 2003
[singlepic=251,317,112,left] Tracy Chapman, with eastmountainsouth. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Sunday, June 22.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been here, and it’s changed,” Tracy Chapman remarked about the renovated Bowl, several songs into her set last Sunday night. Speaking of having “changed”—so has she. The last time I saw her perform she was serious, shy, and quiet. This time she was relaxed, talkative, and funny (comparing the beauty of the Santa Barbara Bowl to Colorado’s Red Rocks, suggesting we call it “Light Brown Rocks”). The concert, as she promised early on, was a satisfying mix of old and new songs.
Supported by her excellent six-piece band, Tracy delivered a solid set of songs from five of her six albums. Beginning with “Say Hallelujah” from her recent release Let It Rain (lovely with stand-up bass, acoustic guitars, and gospel-tinged harmonies), the band then switched gears into a solid, rocking arrangement of “Why?” from her self-titled debut album. The evening moved from acoustic mellow to electric rocking, personal introspection to social commentary, familiar to new, twangy to gospel.
Percussion, drums, bass, guitars (one was a Telecaster hybrid made of metal), keyboards (Hammond B3 organ and accordion), and back-up vocals supported her velvety warm voice with tight, eclectic arrangements that crisscrossed folk, gospel, country, reggae, rock, rhythm and blues, and soul. To end the evening, Tracy and the band kicked it up a notch with her hit, “Give Me One Reason” (from New Beginnings), and the audience was on their feet. Then, to kick it up another notch, the band extended the song into a soulful R&B groove with Tracy singing like I’d never heard her before—like she’d inherited the crown from Aretha. Who knew? This was only a taste of things to come. When the band returned for an encore, Tracy stepped up to the mike without her guitar and belted out an amazing version of “Proud Mary” (channeling the Tina Turner classic take on the Credence tune) and closed the evening beautifully with Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” Changed indeed.