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It seems as if Sheryl Crow has been around for an eternity, however it was only just over ten years ago that she originally broke into the UK charts with the smash-hit single All I Wanna Do. It didn’t take her long to become a household name; her debut album went onto sell millions and was followed up by several other records which all helped to raise her profile. In recent years Sheryl has kept of out the limelight, but she did have time last year to release a greatest hits album. As well as spending time in the recording studio, Sheryl Crow can be found playing live concerts, and it is one of these that she has just released on DVD, and as you might have guessed that is what this review is about.

Sheryl Crow: C'mon America 2003
The Concert
C’Mon America 2003 was recorded live at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio. The combination of her two nights at the venue (10th & 11th July 2003) makes up this DVD which has a total running time of two hours. I saw Sheryl Crow live about six years ago, so it was interesting to see how she had matured as a live act since then. It’s fair to say that her concerts are low-key, and by that I mean she has the bare minimum on stage with her at any one time. You are likely to find her band and a couple of hefty speakers, and that’s about it! There are no fancy flashing lights and big screens, you are simply invited to chill out and listen to her distinctive voice. Between songs Sheryl might be caught saying the occasional ‘thank you’, but apart from that the singer concentrates solely on her music. This results in her covering a large proportion of her tracks, and makes for an unrivalled couple of hours entertainment. This DVD covers most of Sheryl’s greatest hits and the track list reads like this:

[*]Steve McQueen
[*]There Goes the Neighbourhood
[*]My Favorite Mistake
[*]C'Mon, C'Mon,
[*]The First Cut is the Deepest
[*]Strong Enough
[*]Redemption Day
[*]If It Makes You Happy
[*]Change Would Do You Good
[*]Weather Channel
[*]Leaving Las Vegas
[*]All I Wanna Do
[*]Soak Up The Sun
[*]Everyday is a Winding Road
[*]You're An Original
[*]Let's Cut Free
[*]I Shall Believe
[*]Safe and Sound
[*]Rock and Roll

As you can see from the list above, this DVD is packed full of the artist’s best songs. My personal favourites are If It Makes You Happy and My Favorite Mistake, but the best track that she performs for this concert is without a doubt The First Cut is the Deepest. One of the things I was taken aback by when seeing Sheryl play live was the amount of time she spends on stage. It is obvious that she loves playing gigs, and although she may not be the most outspoken person you will see live, she sure does know how to entertain! Her concerts are generally acoustic sessions; this is partly down to the type of songs she has written and also the fact that she seems to like to keep her performance simplistic. Over the years Sheryl’s music has developed, when she started out in 1993 her songs could probably have been defined under country music, but slowly during the following years she released more rockier tracks, and ultimately that is the bracket under which you would class her last studio album. Throughout all this change Sheryl has managed to keep a steady fan base and is widely respected within the music industry. You will regularly see her on TV playing duets with some of the best musical performers in the world, and this is an example of how well her peers perceive her.

Sheryl Crow: C'mon America 2003
Ultimately whether or not you enjoy this DVD will come down to two things; if you like flashy, over-hyped concerts, where people spend more time dancing around the stage rather than actually doing what they are supposed to (i.e. singing), then you should probably give this DVD a miss because it will bore you silly. However, if you appreciate good music and can recognise an artist who is at the peak of her career then you will love this DVD. Sheryl Crow may put on a no-thrills show, but it still transfers well onto DVD. There are plenty of quality songs on offer with this release and I guarantee by the end you will be tapping your feet along in rhythm. As a fan of Sheryl’s this DVD is easy to recommend!      

This Sheryl Crow DVD is presented in 1.77:1 but sadly it is not Anamorphic. However, don’t be distracted by this because it is still a reasonable effort by Universal. As with most outdoor concerts, as the day slowly progresses the transfer has to adapt to the changing colour palette. This transfer deals with the daylight scenes with complete competency, and also deals with the black levels, which are defined and solid. The image itself is also wonderfully replicated on the screen; it is generally sharp, but does have its moments where the image could be better defined. There are also slight signs of edge enhancements, and there is the occasional glimpse of compression artefacts, but they are not too distracting. Overall, this is a perfectly acceptable transfer and compliments the superb audio aspects of the disc, which are discussed below.

As for the audio, Universal have supplied two soundtracks with this release. The concert can be listened to in either Dolby 2.0 or Dolby Digital 5.1. For the purpose of this review, I am going to concentrate on the 5.1 track which is definitely the crown jewels as far as this release is concerned. The soundstage is put to good use with the rears being used throughout. Sometimes the crowd noises are moved to the back speakers, but at others times we get to listen to individual instruments. If you have any of Sheryl’s previous CDs then you won’t feel let down with the audio on offer here, each song is perfectly portrayed and the artist’s voice is never lost in the commotion of the concert. The concert sounds realistic and atmospheric in 5.1, and is definitely the highlight of the disc. The 2.0 track is also adequate and is a good alternative for anyone who doesn’t have a sound system. There are no subtitles with this disc.

Sadly there are no extras with this release which is no great surprise, but disappointing nevertheless. Lots of concert DVDs just seem to be run of the mill efforts and don’t contain extras; it seems too easy to release titles that will sell on their own merits and that appears to be the current trend. It would have been nice to have some supplementary material but never mind, that’s life!

Sheryl Crow: C'mon America 2003
The last few months have seen an influx of concert DVDs, and this one rates among the best of them. Sheryl Crow is an influential songwriter and performer, but that isn’t where her talent ends. She also has the ability to put on a mesmerising live performance. Her shows are basic but that doesn’t matter, she has a good back-catalogue of songs to cover and she lets her voice be the centre of attention. As for the DVD itself, like Sheryl’s performances this DVD is no-frills as well. The transfer is reasonable, but the soundtrack is absolutely stunning and definitely one of the best live tracks I have heard in a long time. For fans of Sheryl I have no hesitation in recommending this disc, and if you are looking for an impulse buy then you could do a lot worse!

Note : This DVD is region 0 so it can be played on all DVD players.