Sheryl Crow, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

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The Independent Culture

Who listens to Sheryl Crow? A former backing singer for Michael Jackson and Joe Cocker, Crow went solo in 1993 and her catchy hit "All I Wanna Do" was the biggest summer single of 1994. Then, in 1996, she brought out "Everyday is a Winding Road" which became trapped in the listener's head like a bee in a jam jar. Since then she has won eight Grammy awards and one Brit, but even so, one cannot escape the fact that Crow is to rock what Sunny Delight is to freshly-squeezed orange juice.

At this one-off special live performance at Shepherd's Bush Empire to promote the Greatest Hits album - which includes most of the anodyne singles she sang here - Crow appears with straight blonde hair, cool softleather Speedway fashion pants and black ankle boots, holding a glistening red guitar. She looks so clean-cut it could be Carol Smiley, the Changing Rooms presenter, fronting a band.

The audience are unnervingly friendly, and Crow is on early - just after 8.15pm - because the programme will take forever. After a few non- descript songs, she sings a version of Cat Stevens' "The First Cut is the Deepest" but, considering how she massacres it, "The First Cut is the Deadliest" might be more to the point.

Throughout the show, two screens above the stage project show "appropriate" videos - a posse of Elvis impersonators mooch down a desert road as she sings "Leaving Las Vegas".

Then turning around, she wiggles up to the assembled band, and chats to the drummer who obviously can't hear her. He looks like an advertising executive in a Thomas Pink shirt, while the two guitarists look like generic rock musicians and the over-dramatic gesticulations of the keyboard player are simply ludicrous. The only time there's anything like real action is when the drummer throws a drum stick at the keyboard player. Pure rock'n'droll.

Everyone perks up a little after "If It Makes You Happy". Then she says: "I turned 40 since I saw you ... 40 is the new 30 I can tell you." She adds that she has had a breakdown), and self-deprecatingly jokes that while she was "heavily medicated" she wrote "The Weather Channel", a melancholy song in which she says she is "waiting for the sun".

By now everybody looks profoundly depressed so to cheer things up she slips in a few smash hits, lettinng the audience join in the chorus in "Everyday is a Winding Road". The whole night is nothing butaural wallpaper. As she whitters away, the conclusion is that this West coast pop-rock is incapable of moving anybody to anything except indifference.

Sheryl Crow returns to Shepherd's Bush Empire on 7-9 December

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