After 10 years in absentia, Eurythmics the vehicle that made androgynous lead singer Annie Lennox an international superstar and her partner Dave Stewart one of the most in-demand producers of the last 15 years are more Vegas-y and soulful than they ever were before, a rare juxtaposition.
Decked out in fatigues and silver parkas, the duo and their eight-piece band opened their two-hour set with “I Want It All” from the band’s new Arista disc, “Peace,” and immediately segued into the 1980s radio staple “Missionary Man,” which featured a faux Delta blues slide guitar intro from Stewart.
Many of the band’s oldies were done as acoustic-driven duets that evolved back into their original arrangements.
Flanked by a pair of enormous video screens, Lennox’s stagy grimacing and posturing wowed the arena faithful in a manner not unlike, say, Liza Minnelli.
The set’s high point was a fervent medley of a sorrowful “Who’s That Girl” into a pumping “Would I Lie to You?” into a genuinely rousing “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” that brought the house down. During this trio of tunes, a baby grand was wheeled out and the backup singers and band huddled about it under a pair of blazing klieg lights — a spectacular presentation. For a first night, very impressive.
Naturally, the band encored with “Here Comes the Rain” (also a duet), and an oddly restrained version of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. The most engaging moment of the set was the new single “17 Again,” a look back at Stewart and Lennox’s teen years as a couple. As power pop, it was as catchy as anything ever conceived by a skinny-tie act.
The reunited pop group is doing a pair of benefits for Greenpeace and Amnesty Intl. — this week they’re at Madison Square Garden — before launching a full European tour.
Opening the show was Capitol Records artist Meredith Brooks, who worked as hard as humanly possible to win over the nostalgia-starved fortysomethings in the house to little avail. She featured a smattering of new songs from her new disc “Deconstruction” that would have sounded better in a smaller hall (although the Staples sound for both acts was clear and true).
Her set’s high point was a hard-rocking version of Melanie’s 1970 hit “Candles in the Rain,” backed by a local choir. The low point was an attempted sing-along for her 1997 hit “Bitch” that failed to move the assembled.