It was the night that Catriona Le May Doan won her gold medal, so there we were after the medal ceremony, watching Sheryl Crow entertain. This is one of the more well-received innovations of the 2002 Winter Olympics, an evening concert to round off the day of competition. They go live to The Tonight Show for one song - which Jay Leno introduces on a massive Jumbotron - thus giving the Olympics an extra plug on late-night network television.
Under International Olympic Committee access rules, once the medal winners finish up, they pass through a mixed zone where they meet with reporters, seeking a few comments to complete their stories. The night before, though not required to do so, the Barenaked Ladies stopped in the mixed zone after their show on Thursday to speak with any reporters who wanted to chat.
It made me wonder: Maybe performers should be asked to do post-game interviews in the same way professional athletes do after every game. This could start a whole new trend in accountability. Performers, after putting on their show, would meet the press to analyze the content; review what worked and what didn't work; consider how the momentum of the show changed, the ballads slowing the the pace down, the rockers speeding it up.
They could consider analyze the peculiarities of the venue and the other night you have begun with: How do you play guitar when the temperature hovers a few degrees below zero? Crow was decked out in outdoor garb - thick turtleneck sweater, sturdy coat, cowboy hat and ski goggles - but her fingers were absolutely bare throughout the entire show. How did she manage to strum away with so little effort?
Next, Crow would evaluate the work of her team. Wasn't the drum solo a little long? Did the lead guitarist come in on time during the chorus of Leaving Las Vegas? And, for that matter, why wasn't that on her play list anymore?
It should be said that Crow was excellent and everyone involved gave a fair accounting of themselves. Now, were they equally motivated at Harry O's, a nightclub in Park City, the night before, for a much smaller crowd, without the live television insert? Do singing stars endure the same ups and downs as NHL hockey players, productive one night, grinding it out by rote the next?
Then I'd move on to a discussion of her new material. Presumably, it's the same for every artist that's trying out largely unknown songs - they tend to be received politely, but not exuberantly. You'd hardly be surprised to know the second song on her play list was Every Day Is A Winding Road, which brought a collective roar from the crowd and probably went over better than anything that followed. A new song, called Steve McQueen, sounded interesting and I'll Circle The Sun- which everybody caught on the Leno show - made a big impact. After that, her standards - A Change Will Do You Good, If It Makes You Happy - had fairly high recognition levels. Other newer songs left listeners puzzling: Which one's that?
The way her band was shivering, I figured it was a longshot that she would stop in the mixed zone. Then, because we decided to watch the fireworks, it became a moot point anyway. By the time we left, everybody else had gone home too. Maybe we'll do it another time.