2008 – Our Bright Future Tour – December 14, Manchester, Apollo


  • 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
The Promise
Say Hallelujah
Across The Lines
Save Us All
Telling Stories
House Of The Rising Sun
Fast Car
Give Me One Reason
She’s Got a Ticket
Talkin ‘Bout A Revolution

Stand By Me
For You

  • 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.

Agreeably funk

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.


Venue: Manchester Apollo Theatre
Tickets: Ticketmaster.co.uk
Producer: Live Nation
Opening Act: James Vincent McMorrow

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Comments 10
  1. Abolutely brilliant yet again, wsorth the ticket price and more. Tracy was far more “interactive” with the audience this time and came across as the genuiune individual that recognises the injustices that are inherent in America and throughout the world. A wonderful mix of the old songs and a couple from her new album “our bright future” made this, once again, a night to remember.

  2. I have just had the pleasure of attending the Manchester concert, wow what a night! I took my 10 year old daughter along who sang happily along to the songs she knew (most of them). Tracy was fantastic and so effortless in her singing, she seems such a nice geniune woman and very modest and down to earth too, something you dont often see in such famous artists. Well done Tracy and thanks for a great night, hope to see you return very soon

  3. Great concert! Tracy was in fine chatty form..talking about her experiences playing in coffee houses and being on Sesame Street. I couldn’t believe it when she ended with “For You” – that was the one song I’ve always wanted her to play live! Here are the songs that I can remember (not all in correct order)

    Behind The Wall
    Baby Can I Hold You
    Sing For You
    For My Lover
    I Did It All
    The Promise
    Across The Lines
    Telling Stories
    Save Us All
    House of the Rising Sun
    Fast Car
    Give Me One Reason
    She’s Got Her Ticket
    Stand By Me
    For You

  4. What a fab night, was sat centre of the front row! Shame you weren’t allowed to take any pictures at all though!

    Tracy seemed very relaxed and more confident in herself than usual last night, even though she did have a little technical difficulty. I recall this happening to her the last time she played the Apollo also.

    Great list of songs sang and what an amazing version of House of the Rising Sun. Tracy also sang a cover of Stand by Me, again fantastic. The only thing that got a bit much was some rough members of the audience unable to understand it was Tracy’s show and not theirs! We’re not all mouthy bastards up north Tracy, honest!

  5. Thanks Andy- I realised I’d also missed that song this morning, oops!
    Agreed Rob – why do some people feel the need to scream things at her? Particularly during some of the more sensitive numbers. Same thing happened at her 2005 show at the Birmingham NIA.

  6. wow! What a concert! brilliant really good. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!Tracey was so relaxed and chatty it was really nice.Such a shame some of the audience had no respect at all when james was playing though.So glad Tracey didn’t fall asleep after taking her bedtime cough syrup!! bless her!An evening I will always remember, can’t wait for next one.

  7. amazing. amazing. amazing. i was sitting front row, centre too. very lucky. got no problem with people singing along – i kind of think that’s what it’s about. two women at the end of the row were talking all the way through though – no matter how many glares i gave them :( i even discharged myself from hospital for the gig :) well worth it. x


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