01. Hound Dog
02. For My Lover
04. Say Hallelujah
05. Baby Can I Hold You
06. Fast Car
07. Don’t Dwell
08. The Promise
09. Smoke and Ashes
10. Another Sun
12. Stand By Me
13. Before Easter
14. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution
16. Give Me One Reason
Setlist submitted by: Michael K. Watts
Michael K. Watts, 10/22/05: It is so nice, as always, to have a new Tracy Chapman album, Where You Live, and to have her hit the road in support of it.
Tonight’s show was a late added show, not on the announced tour, to benefit Housing Works, a New York organization that supports homeless people living with HIV and AIDS. She said that like past tours, she has invited local charities to set up tables at her shows so that fans can support charitable efforts in their communities. After a meeting with her record label to share her plans about the album and tour, a record label staff member came up with the idea for her to do this benefit show. And here we are.
Held in the organization’s Used Book Café, the sold-out show was small and very intimate (the place undoubtedly holds no more than 150-175 people). People who couldn’t get a seat had to sit on the stairs, in the windowsills, on the floor, or they had to stand wherever there was an unobstructed view.
The only problem with the small space was that obnoxious audience members (yelling annoying sounds) were more obtrusive than they would be in a larger venue. The first couple of times were semi-funny. But after that it became disrespectful.
Ben Taylor, son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, opened the show with a nice set of music.
Tracy entered in her usual unassuming way, like she was just one of the band. She wore a brown t-shirt and blue jeans. Unlike past tours where a 5-6-piece band backed her, this tour has her touring with only a drummer and a guitarist, similar to the simpler way that her latest album was recorded. That same musical intimacy was multiplied in this small setting.
She was in good voice, as always, though she seems to put forth very little effort to achieve an amazing vocal performance. She sang with her eyes shut or partially shut mostly, as she often does.
She didn’t talk much this time around. In the past she’s been chatty between some songs, but she had very little to say this time around. (Remember the long story of her trip to a New York museum that went on and on?)
It was so amazing to sit at her feet or stand a few feet away and experience her performance. You could see her facial expressions, feel the emotions of her band members, and get absorbed in the songs in a way that a large show doesn’t allow.
“For My Lover” was a slower rendition than the original.
“Say Hallelujah” was performed blues style–an excellent performance.
Despite the set list sitting on the floor on stage, she announced that she would take requests for one part of the show. For a about a minute, people yelled out everything from “Baby Can I Hold You” to “The Promise” to “Another Sun.” She said she “heard a few” songs she wanted to perform, so she decided to perform “a medley.” What she really did was continue playing full songs.
She performed “The Promise” without the band, and as always, delivered an emotional performance. Nice.
“Smoke and Ashes” was performed solo, but the others joined in later in the song. It was interesting to hear this song performed without that characteristic bass line and extra guitar parts. This was a more stripped down version.
“Another Sun” was absolutely amazing… almost eerie and haunting. The line “trouble won’t find me” recurred at the end and really drove it home.
“America” was performed with drums and Tracy on guitar only.
“Before Easter” received great applause from the audience. It was very nice.
On “Lovesong,” her cover of The Cure’s hit, Tracy played strumstick. When an audience member asked, “What’s that?” She announced what it was and without knowing what else to say, she said that it looks like a stick. And she stopped there (drum beats, cymbal clash).
“Give Me One Reason” was performed in its original form, without the rocking reprise she normally does of the song.
Set List Analysis:
Tracy has never been one of those two-hour show performers, and as the years have gone by, the shorter her shows have become (or so it seems). When you combine that with her now seven-album repertoire, it makes hearing some of her past gems like winning Fantasy 5. You might hear your picks performed, but don’t count on it.
The first album still gets the highest share of Tracy’s set list, since it was the one that established her as an artist and sold the most copies. But no “Mountains O’ Things” and no “Why?,” a song she has been opening with on several dates of the tour.
The Crossroads album was ignored, as it often is… though, the title cut has been included on some recent shows. “All That You Have Is Your Soul” was one of those requested from the audience but no go. The Matters of the Heart album was also ignored, with songs like “Bang Bang Bang,” “I Used To Be a Sailor,” and others sorely missed.
New Beginning, the second best selling album of her repertoire, was featured in “Smoke and Ashes,” “The Promise,” and the obligatory “Give Me One Reason.” Telling Stories was sorely missed, with its title cut and “Nothing Yet,” among others.
Let it Rain saw nice set list inclusions of “Another Sun” and “Say Hallelujah.” It would have been wonderful to hear “You’re the One” and “I Am Yours.”
Where You Live surprisingly only got four slots in her set list: “Change,” “Don’t Dwell,” “America,” and “Before Easter.” Normally, she has done 5 or more songs from the current album on tour. “Talk to You,” “3,000 Miles,” “Never Yours,” and “Be and Be Not Afraid” are songs which would have been wonderful to hear.
Performing covers has been a concert tradition of Tracy’s for many years. This time around she opted for a cover of Big Mama Thornton’s rock-n-roll classic “Hound Dog,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” and The Cure’s gem “Lovesong.” It’s interesting that “Hound Dog” and “Stand By Me” are both written or co-written by songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It’s not surprising that Tracy would be a fan of their songs, especially these.
As Tracy’s tour continues to Europe, it will be interesting to see how she varies her set list there. And, God willing, if she tours the United States next year, maybe we’ll get to hear some more of her cadre of material.
“If you knew that you would die today,
Saw the face of god and love,
Would you change?
Would you change?”
VENUE: Housing Works, Used Book Cafe, 126 Crosby Street, NYC 10012 – USA (Capacity: 150)