Ritz, Manchester, 30/10/2014
published: 13 /
Billy Seagrave watches Sheryl Crow and country support act Red Sky July play passionate sets at the Ritz in Manchester
Red Sky July are husband and wife duo Ally McErlaine and Shelly Poole along with former model Charity Hair.
McErlaine has been down this road before, as he is also the guitarist with Texas. Shelly is no stranger to the music industry either, as she was one half of the bestselling 1990s duo Alisha's Attic, and she has also written for Massive Attack, Mark Ronson and Janet Jackson among others. Charity has meanwhile previously sung lead vocals in both the Alice Band and the Ailerons.
So, it is no coincidence that lyrically and musically they steer a tight and true ship. Shelley and Charity's rich harmonies work effortlessly with each other. It is like watching a great malt whiskey that’s been blended and slowly poured out for the crowd to savour and enjoy. It is not difficult to understand why the American country scene has taken to them so willingly, and there is no doubting the Grand Ole Opry beckons.
They stand without frills on the stage, Ally in the centre and Shelly and Charity on either side. The poise, tone and delivery would not be out of place in Nashville. This is the Ritz Manchester, with a band based in the UK transcending the Atlantic.
Red Sky July are a cultured and pleasant way to prepare for the main act. One can expect to see this act progress seamlessly onto the festival scene next year.
There is no doubting, over the last couple of decades, that the back catalogue of Sheryl Crow music has helped to keep her in the limelight, so a sell-out crowd had gathered to pay homage to a much loved performer.
Crow herself comes on the stage focused and seemingly ready to deliver. There are numerous guitar changes, not only for Crow herself, but for the rest of the band throughout the evening, yet there is no let-up in the pace of the concert.
Like a conductor orchestrating the band, Crow is centre stage leading audience sing-a-longs during 'All I Wanna Do' and 'Can’t Cry Anymore', to which the eager and appreciative crowd respond without any hesitation. Crow also allows the excellent band to exercise their superb skills as musicians, At times it became more blues and rock rather than country-based, and at one poin she slips to the back of the stage to play piano whilst the band get the chance to extend the outro for 'My Favourite Mistake'.
The set list is strong, each song more eagerly received as the atmosphere grows throughout the night. The final song of the evening is a cover version of Led Zeppelin’s 'Rock and Roll'. This is the chance for an excellent band to bring to an end what has been a great evening. Crow and the band leave the stage to rapturous applause on this night for her fans.
Sheryl Crow Set List:
A Change Would Do You Good
All I Wanna Do
Callin' Me When I'm Lonely
Can't Cry Anymore
My Favourite Mistake
The First Cut is the Deepest
Best of Times
Anything But Down
If It Makes You Happy
Soak Up the Sun
Every day is a Winding Road
Run, Baby, Run
Rock and Roll
Photos by Melanie Smith