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Concert Reviews:
Annie Lennox Bares Her Soul At Music Hall
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- On this night, there was more than one Queen of Soul in the metro area.

Aretha Franklin doesn't have to relinquish her crown and scepter, mind you, but Annie Lennox -- who went tonsil-to-tonsil with Franklin on Eurythmics' 1985 hit "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" -- showed she was more than just another lady-in-waiting during her 90-minute concert Monday night (Oct. 22) at the city's Music Hall Center For the Performing Arts.

Lennox's 17-song show was all about intimacy, passion and vocal precision -- all the hallmarks of great R&B. The Scottish-born songstress, who embraced the "Diva" mantle on her 1992 solo debut, sported short-cropped blonde hair with a black mini-dress and slacks ensemble and clearly fed off the small room's in-your-face ambience, starting with the operatic vocal licks of "No More I Love Yous" and continuing through a set list that touched on her 26 years of recording since forming Eurythmics with Dave Stewart. She reached into that band's catalog for favorites such as "There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)," "Thorn in My Side" and "When Tomorrow Comes," and also drew four selections from her latest solo album, "Songs of Mass Destruction," and slotted in previous solo favorites such as "Walking on Broken Glass," "Cold," "Little Bird" and "Pavement Cracks."

A highlight was certainly a mid-show trio of songs that Lennox performed alone, accompanying herself on piano. Saluting both the theater and Tamla-Motown ("I wouldn't be signing like this if it wasn't for Motown," she noted), she played affecting version s of Eurythmics' "Here Comes the Rain Again," her own "A Thousand Beautiful Things" and the aforementioned "Sisters..." before bringing her understated but effective band -- five instrumentalists and two backing singers -- back to the stage.

The main set ended on a buoyant note with an energetic and organic rendition of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," but the encore took a sober turn. Lennox introduced "Sing," the all-star showpiece from "Songs of Mass Destruction," with a video about the AIDS crisis in Africa that included comments from Nelson Mandela and images of suffering, with statistics accenting her performance of the song. That gave a greater depth to the show-closing "Why," expanding its commentary beyond a single relationship.

The encore's tone heightened rather than deflated the evening's mood, however, lending a bit more meaning to the kind of vocal exposition that's seldom matched outside the classical realm. These were songs of nothing less than mass elation.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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