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Story by Andy ArgyrakisNot even the most fervent music fan can ever get tired of Annie Lennox simply because her recording and touring pace is so infrequent that it's a major undertaking every time she reemerges from seclusion. A recent stop at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre came four years after her last visit and CD, but prior to that, the Eurythmics front woman didn't record a solo CD since 1995. No matter what the era, Lennox consistently proves the wait between projects is well worth it, such as solid the brand new batch Songs of Mass Destruction (Arista).
However, the sweet songbird began on familiar ground during the sold out show, starting with the remarkably wide ranged, emotive offering "No More I Love You's" and then the upbeat pleasantries of "Little Bird" and "Walking On Broken Glass." The singer, her five piece band and two backing vocalists also recalled the 2003 CD Bare for an impassioned take on the escalating ballad "Pavement Cracks," again hitting every note unflinchingly and soaring high enough to reach the heavens. Lennox finally unveiled new renderings with the piano centered belter "Smithereens," which slowly mounted into a full band rock romp.
Yet the headliner kept the pacing unpredictable by dismissing her backers for an intimate piano set, which also provided glimpses at the Eurythmics era. However, the pulsating dance beats and synthesized sensibilities of "Here Comes the Rain Again" were substituted for a stripped down but gloriously beautiful solo arrangement. The group's 80s collaboration with Aretha Franklin was also referenced come the female empowerment anthem "Sisters are Doin' It For Themselves," accompanied by the audience united as background singers.
The set truly hit a stride when unveiling the new tune "Ghost In My Machine," which transformed on stage as a groove oriented gospel grinder. A few tracks later, she topped that crest with a true to form take on the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," a treasure from her past that continues to earn regular rotation in dance clubs and retro radio.
Lennox's encore once again straddled the current and classic, starting with the fresh "Sing," written to spread awareness of AIDS in Africa. Though the studio version features a celebrity backing choir that includes Madonna, Shakira, Sarah McLachlan and Melissa Etheridge (amongst many more), the entertainer had no trouble waving her own charismatic banner. On the obligatory closer "Why," the audience sat in enthralled silence, suggesting the versatile vocalist remains just as captivating today as when she first blurred genre and gender boundaries over twenty-five years ago.
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