1995 – Tracy Chapman – Wadsworth Theatre, West L.A.; 1,200 seats; $ 22.50

By Gary Jackson, Variety.com, Fri., Dec. 15, 1995

Chapman’s sweet and shy stage persona belies her success. The earthy pleas for peace, love and understanding could be misconstrued as corny, or even dated, but Chapman prevailed with an infectious optimism undergirded by a tightly controlled energy.

Presented by Nederlander. Band: Chapman, Linda Taylor, Rock Deadrick, John Thomas, Glenys Rogers. Reviewed Dec. 13, 1995. Although she hasn’t continued the monumental commercial success of her 1988 “Fast Car,” Tracy Chapman nonetheless maintains a core group of worshipers, many of whom sang note for note to such songs as “Bang Bang Bang,””Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” and “She’s Got Her Ticket” Wednesday at the Wadsworth. Despite a muddled band sound early on (mostly in the lower bass registers), and Chapman’s being saddled with the lingering effects of the flu, the singer’s vocals came through with no apparent difficulty. When she talked, however, the ravages of her sickness caused her voice to crack. It added to her charm.
The concert opened with the title cut to her latest Elektra album, “New Beginning,” a reggae-inflected tune fueled by Chapman’s oddly metered, yet winsome style. Chapman paced the show with sprinklings of old and new, acoustic and electric, soft tones and surprising rockers, displaying an outright determination to showcase her flexibility.

Chapman paused in the middle of her set to read a number of audience homilies written, at her request, before the concert on 3-by-5 cards that tied in well with the evening’s folksy theme. Show’s biggest surprise was the finale, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary”– with Ike and Tina Turner’s arrangement, at that.

Chapman, shaking her long dreads a la Tina at her frenzied best, literally shocked the audience with so sudden a departure from her stoic identity. Yet its insertion provided a refreshing end to a concert that regardless would have stood up on its own.

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