03. Another Sun
04. Baby Can I HOld You
05. At This Point In my Life
06. Mountains O’ Things
07. The Promise
08. Let It Rain
09. Fast Car
12. You’re The One
13. Telling Stories
14. She’s Got A Ticket
15. Give me One Reason
16. Hound Dog
17. Talkin bout a revolution
18. A Change Is Gonna Come
- Understated Chapman speaks volumes – By: MARTY HUGHLEY, The Oregonian, June 10, 2003
The recent heat wave in the Northwest came as a befuddling surprise to Tracy Chapman. During her Sunday night concert at Keller Auditorium, the celebrated singer-songwriter mentioned that she’d been to Seattle many times, but never knew it got as hot as it had been the past couple of days there.
“It felt like being in Texas,” she said — then quickly moved to correct herself. “Well, I don’t want to say ‘Texas.’ ”
The remark got a healthy chuckle and a cheer from an audience quick to pick up on the political subtext, the allusion to the Dixie Chicks dust-up over President Bush’s ties to the Lone Star state.
And the remark also was a non-musical example of what worked best about Chapman’s music and songs on Sunday. Understatement served her well.
Chapman’s fame came in part through her revivifying of the tradition of pop-music protest in such songs as “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution.” But her more overtly political songs aren’t her most effective — despite the big cheer she got musing in one song about why missiles would have the name Peacekeepers. The danger in her tendency toward liberal bromides is less about being wrong than about being ham-handed.
The power of subtlety came across clearly in her two-song encore, in which the preachiness of “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” was contrasted with a much more allusive and resonant sort of political anthem, Sam Cooke’s classic “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which Chapman delivered with a lustrous tone and an appropriately measured passion.
In general, Chapman does her best work in, shall we say, the department of the interior. Mapping the twisting contours of desire (the sweet ballad “Baby Can I Hold You”), distrust (the gripping “Telling Stories”) and stubborn passion (“You’re the One”), she captures the complexity of romantic emotion particularly well. Other songs express reassurance and optimism in powerful ways, such as her gospel-ish opening song “Say Hallelujah.”
Subtlety has its biggest payoff in Chapman’s singing. Her rich, amber alto has always been a distinctive voice, but as she’s gained experience and confidence, the heavy quavering vibrato she initially used has faded. By now her singing is truer and sweeter, a splendorous thing closer to the sound of her closest precursor, Joan Armatrading.
Chapman’s six-piece band gave sympathetic backing, moving from the Peter Gabriel-like moodiness of “Another Sun” to the reggae lilt of “She Got Her Ticket” to a swaggering, bluesy version of “Hound Dog” sung with the original lyric instead of Elvis Presley’s better-known adaptation.
No understatement was forthcoming — or necessary — from the crowd, which cheered and hollered wildly for Chapman all night long, and also showed lots of well-deserved love to the sweet-voiced opening act eastmountainsouth. It wasn’t quite a heat wave, but certainly a warm reception.
VENUE: Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Portland, OR 97205- USA (Capacity: 5000)
PROMOTER: Double Tee Concerts
OPENING ACT: EastMountainSouth