- Tracy Chapman / James McMorrow, Manchester Apollo on Sunday 14 December 2008 – By Danielle Millea, egigs.co.uk
Support tonight is from James McMorrow; a charming young man from Ireland, who performs songs in the style of James Blunt. He has a lovely husky voice, although I think he has a cold. McMorrow has just supported Al Green, to the shock of the audience (“You lucky *%&!” I hear…). He’s a very modest performer too; he knows what we are waiting for, so the audience love him even more.
For years now I have waited to see the delightful Tracy Chapman perform, either with a backing band or solo. We are in for a special treat tonight as this is a rare solo show, going back to where Chapman started from, busking and playing in Coffee shops in the States. “You don’t need a band!” shouts one audience member.
Sounding croaky from a recent cold (it started in Scandinavia, which is cold, but it is very cold here!”). Chapman is as charming as ever. A little shy but still comical; she’s taking requests and telling us stories of the backgrounds to some tunes, old and new. Most of the crowd are in awe. One request is for a birthday shout to a guy (or gal) called Muppet, which prompts the story of Tracy’s stint on Sesame Street. “You start talking to them after a while like they are real people. I knocked Elmo in the eye with my guitar!”. Some other people have given her jokes (they are that bad she only reads out one) and even an invitation to Christmas Dinner!
The new songs in tonight’s set get as good a reception as the ones we all know. Upbeat ‘I Did It All’ with it’s un-autobiographical lyrics and ‘Save Us All’ about extreme religion are highlights, it’s just a shame this is a seated show and we can not get up and dance. We also get a treat with a couple of covers, one being ‘House of The Rising Sun’ dedicated to those living in New Orleans (as it was when it was first written as an old folk song). The simple backdrop of a sun rising and setting gradually throughout the set and the minimal lighting is very effective for the mood too.
It’s all about the hits though. ‘Baby Can I Hold You Tonight’ gets a huge sing-a-long early on, as does ‘Talking ‘Bout A Revolution’. It’s ‘Fast Car’ that many are here to hear, and the beautiful solo version is very moving.
There are a few technical difficulties with one of the many guitars Chapman is using, though ever the great performer she sings through it and jokes of it at the end. The use of a bit of paper to partially mute the guitar strings near the bridge is also a unique idea, which I will be pinching!
After trying for months to get tickets I am sad that I have to thank ebay, because without it I wouldn’t be at this show. There are decent people on there though, and I paid face value, so thank you to them, you made my year.
Taking requests at the end she tries to split the sold out crowd in four or so groups, so that it would be easier to hear the shout outs. This doesn’t work, but Chapman says she had already chosen a song that we all might know, and starts playing ‘Ben E. Kings Stand By Me’. What a show.
Behind The Wall
Baby Can I Hold You Tonight
Sing For You
For My Lover
I Did It All
Across The Lines
Save Us All
House Of The Rising Sun
Give Me One Reason
She’s Got a Ticket
Talkin ‘Bout A Revolution
Stand By Me
- Tracy Chapman – By Belinda Hanks, http://www.citylife.co.uk, Reviewed: Mon, 15 December, 2008
[singlepic=1128,400,600,left] SHE blew away the musical landscape with an immortalising album in 1988.
Twenty years on Tracy continues to challenge the public and the political.
Of course, fans know the story well. Her debut catapulting her to stardom, multi-platinum sales and four Grammys.
Others haven’t made the same splash – new album Our Bright Future not quite as challenging – but Chapman marks this short UK tour in the manner in which she began.Busking. Just Tracy and a guitar.
Mood-wise it was buzzing in sweet anticipation. The crowd sipping every drop of sentiment from opener Behind The Wall to the final note of Deep In My Heart.
Hit after hit, being delivered by audience request including For My Lover, it’s funky rhythm and repetitive chorus creating a spellbinding mood.
“I like bringing characters to life,” she tells us. A pleasant and bashful stage persona belies her success offering anecdotes about The Muppets and declining an invitation for Christmas dinner from the crowd.
“I’m lucky enough to have a family,” she smiles.
She keeps a packed Apollo enthralled all night. Excitable fans bursting with song.
Even for new tracks such as I Did It All. “With the A-list of B-list movie stars/ Seduced my share in silk and polyester.”
A gentle ballad, Save a Place for Me was a vocal highlight, Tracy’s voice soaring through a display of emotions.
Then the agreeably funk of Say Hallelujah from Let It Rain. Her artistry and hushed vocal bringing an intimate feel as the words washed over the crowd – “Give me hope when I need it most.’’
And Tracy has reason to be optimistic thanks to Obama getting in to the whitehouse and her segregated state Ohio voting in favour.
To reflect she delivers a heartfelt Across The Line.
“Religion is so rigid. I don’t agree,” states Tracy before going in to the tongue in cheek, Save Us All.
Old favourite House of the Risin Sun is one of two covers including Stand by Me.
Fast Car is a masterpiece of understatement, before finishing with Give Me One Reason and Revolution.
Expectation was high, but she didn’t disappoint. It was a rich, heartfelt performance.
A gig offering a rare musical journey. And proving that Tracy’s lyric and musical vision is still an inspiration.
The musical landscape certainly sounds richer with Chapman’s contribution in it.