Friday, July 15, 2016

When She Shines: A Night With Sheena Easton

Nearly had a hoot at last night's Sheena Easton show at B.B. King in Times Square -- barely working air conditioning and a slightly underwhelming set list being the only missing ingredients. Sheena took the stage looking a fraction of her 57 years, yet spent the majority of the evening poking fun at her "sagging body" and even more "sagging career." (Her delivery was so good I'm not entirely convinced her second act won't be as a stand-up.) She kicked the evening off by launching into "Got to Get You Into My Life," which left me scratching my head, even if she performed the Beatles classic with such enthusiasm that I almost couldn't remember whose song it really was. But then "Strut" quickly got the crowd into its '80s groove -- Sheena was quick to announce that she embraces her nostalgia -- and all was forgiven ... for a the moment. 

But this, it would turn out, was a prelude of things to come. She then alternated between her wonderful hits -- "When He Shines," "The Lover in Me," "U Got the Look/Sugar Walls" "Almost Over You," "We've Got Tonight" and the irresistible "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" -- and covers like "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" (Jackie Wilson), "You're No Good" (Linda Ronstadt), "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" (Holland-Dozier-Holland) and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" (Ashford & Simpson). It was all a lot of fun, but I couldn't help but wish she had more faith in her body of work than she did in her (self-proclaimed) shapewear-needing body. (I'd heard her voice was shot but all in all, it was just a bit huskier than we remember.) It was almost like she was embarrassed that we had actually paid money to see her, and figured she'd do us a favor by doing other people's songs we'd actually like. The show ended on a Sheenariffic note with "9 to 5 (Morning Train)" and "For Your Eyes Only" (surprisingly her version, not Blondie's!) bringing the crowd to its knees. But you don't have to be a superfan to realize a few of those covers could have easily been swapped out for singles like "Modern Girl," "You Could Have Been With Me" (a personal favorite) and "What Comes Naturally" (her last hit) -- and that "Do It for Love," "Jimmy Mack," "Machinery" and "So Far So Good" would have had hardcore fans eating out of her sugar walls -- even the gay ones. All nitpicking aside, that she did "I Wouldn't Beg for Water" almost made up for what was lacking -- and that's saying a lot when the AC was barely blowing on a 90-degree night in New York City when I was more than willing to do just that.

Boy Culture, who I didn't even notice in the audience, has more photos and video HERE.


Robb said...

Kenneth, everything you say is true. I saw her a few years ago in Chicago during the Market Days Fest. I go to a lot of shows and Ms. Easton's was truly one of the best. No one is more deserving of a comeback...and yes, "You Could have Been..." is perhaps her finest, yet forgotten, musical moment.

David said...

So very jealous. I would LOVE to see Sheena in concert!

Austin said...

I love Sheena Easton and saw her back in her heyday in 1984 at the Universal Ampitheatre (no longer after 2013). It would be fun to see her again! Thanks for sharing your experience and making us feel like we were right there too. I agree "You Could Have Been With Me" is a must for her set list and is among my most favorite of her hits.