Tracy Chapman – Hammersmith ApolloPosted: Tue 16 December, 2008
Two years on from the last time we saw her, Tracy Chapman returned to the Hammersmith Apollo, this time doing a solo tour. (i.e. with no band)
Thankfully, this time the crowd were much better behaved (well at least while Chapman herself was on stage) which meant we could enjoy the gig without wanting to strangle anyone. There’s still a couple of rants to be written, but that’s something else entirely. Anyway, it turns out that in this concert (and, I assume, others on the same tour) she’s also taking requests from people – there were cards in the entrance hall, and people could fill them in and request favourite songs. As she said, this meant that the show was a lot more random than could be done with a band.
All told, pretty much all the favourites were played, along with tracks from the new album. She didn’t perform a couple of my personal favourites (In particular “Change”, “You’re the one” and “Another Sun”) but that’s fine – the tracklist was still excellent, with Fast Car, Across the Lines, SubCity, Talkin’ about a Revolution, and many others. In short, almost a “Greatest Hits” performance, with just Chapman and a guitar.
The stage set also deserves a mention – while it was minimal, the backdrop of a sky with projected sun going through from dawn to dusk was fantastically done, and the very simple setting of a few lightbulbs hanging above the singer somehow made the entire thing quite magical. It sounds really simple – and it was – but it worked, and that’s always the important thing.
In all, Tracy Chapman played for two solid hours, despite having a cold/cough (she said that at the previous day’s concert, she’d induldged in some cough-syrup, which apparently led to some interesting spoken parts) and really was just a fantastic performer. The interludes where she talked were great, showing her intelligence and humour (at one point saying that if she went off for a costume change, she’d only come back wearing a different pair of jeans) and a building a real rapport with the audience.
If I’d been smarter, we’d have got tickets for both shows (last night and tonight) and just stayed in London overnight. But we didn’t, so we’ll just have to live with only seeing her once this tour. It would’ve been worth doing.