Music Reviews

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United Palace Theater, New York
Saturday, Nov. 3

For a performer who specializes in "Songs of Mass Destruction," as the title of her recent CD puts it, Annie Lennox sure projects an air of ebullience in concert.

Currently embarked on a rare tour of theatrical venues, the pop diva delivers a stirring show that showcases her soulful, powerhouse voice and flair for the dramatic.

Looking gorgeous at 52, the singer wore her blond hair close cropped and chose a sleeveless black minidress. She delivered a too-short (85 minute) mini-retrospective of her career, featuring a few Eurythmics classics, several of her solo smashes and a selection of songs from the new release.

Although her lyrics often convey themes of despair, bitterness and loss, Lennox clearly seems to be enjoying herself onstage. Delivering her songs with a vocal and physical intensity that never wanes, she strikes a series of dramatic poses that wouldn't be out of place in a Martha Graham ballet. The singer's onstage banter is playful and humorous, including self-deprecating stabs at her age ("Who was alive in the '80s?" she asks the audience at one point) and hands-on improvisations (she helped the stagehands push her piano into just the right place).

Such new songs as "Dark Road," "Smithereens" and particularly the hard-stomping "Ghosts in My Machine" fit well into a set that included such hits as "No More I Love You's," "Walking on Broken Glass," "There Must Be an Angel" and "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." Also included were relative obscurities like the dark "Pavement Cracks" from the "Bare" CD.

While her five-piece band and animated female backup singers offered sterling support, the singer's voice really shone on a short solo piano segment that included gorgeous versions of "Here Comes the Rain Again," "A Thousand Beautiful Things" and "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves."

Lennox's social activism was highlighted in the encore, which featured a short documentary film about AIDS in Africa, followed by a stirring rendition of her anthemic new single about that subject, "Sing."

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