Whilst the majority of the crowd are clearly in attendance for Sheryl Crow, it doesn’t take long for Red Sky July to win over their hearts. A supergroup of sorts, Shelly Poole (1 half of Alisha’s Attic), teams up with husband and Texas guitarist Ally Mcerlaine, and The Alice Band’s Charity Hair. Though they’re clear to highlight their formation was set to be something of a side project, they’ve been wowing crowds across London for some time and now with their second album (Shadowbirds) in the public arena, they’ve more than earned their place on the Royal Albert Hall Stage.
Whether it’s their soundscape of Cormac McCarthy’s book Blood Meridian in Renegade or their up-tempo hoedown Warm My Heart, it quickly becomes clear that their ability to weave beautiful harmonies and intricate melodies which is their selling point. With a mix of enticing country songs their set, though short, is able to captivate from start to finish, and whilst their break up song Already Gone highlights their ability to deliver delicate numbers, Made For Each Other highlights that their new album is more than worthy of it’s number 3 position in the country charts.
Sheryl Crow on the other hands delivers what can only be described as a greatest hits show. From the opening Maybe Angels through to her closing tribute to Led Zeppelin the crowd hang on every word, with everyone on their feet by the end of the night. Sure, there are a few bum notes, and the mixing on the sound leaves the volume just beyond the point of comfort but Crow confirms with each passing track that she knows how to keep her crowd engaged.
Despite a new album in 2013, songs from Feels Like Home are fleeting, with Crow focusing on the tracks which built her success. From her cover of Cat Stevens’ The First Cut Is The Deepest through to the likes of All I Wanna Do and Everyday Is A Winding Road she’s able to catapult the audience back to the 90’s. With each song she offers just enough variation to keep them fresh and enough nuance to keep them vibrant. For me it’s the rendition of Redemption Day which acts as one of the highlights, alongside Strong Enough which is accompanied by a beautiful double bass harmony.
For others it’s clearly If It Makes You Happy and Soak Up The Sun which are the pinnacle moments and I’m pressed to find a person who isn’t mouthing the lyrics back at the stage, whilst others use this moment to break out into unused seats in the arena, dancing their way through a game of cat and mouse with security. Suffice to say, the entire night is a win from start to finish. From the emerging talent of Red Sky July and their more intricate country style, to Crow’s established country-rock sound, it’s hard to find fault in the night both offering different, yet equally enchanting sets.