As the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview wrapped up inside Cobo Center, Sheryl Crow kicked off the afterparty in Cobo’s Atrium.
The nine-time Grammy winner took the stage for a 16-song, 85-minute set of hits that spanned her career.
Crow’s steady, upbeat performance proved a good match for the event, and she’s a recognizable, formidable name suitable for Detroit’s biggest night. Uncle Kracker’s set at the Charity Preview last year was like a dry run, and Crow — playing the finished Atrium, a gorgeous setting that even made the People Mover look cool when it rode by outside — was the real deal.
Crow opened with “Steve McQueen,” with a large black and white picture of the actor on the video screen behind her. Backed by her six-piece band, Crow delivered for the black-tie crowd, which included people watching from two levels of balconies and a full house on the Atrium steps, which became makeshift bleachers.
“Do you love American-made cars?” Crow asked as she rolled into “All I Wanna Do.” In the song’s opening lines, she changed the words “this is L.A.” to “this is an automobile show!”
She sprinkled auto banter throughout her set, commenting on cars she used to own, which included several Chevy vehicles. She also performed several auto-themed songs, including a song she wrote for the movie “Cars” (“Real Gone”) and “Shotgun.”
The crowd thinned out as her set progressed, and around two-thirds of the crowd had left by the time she closed her set with a wailing cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” There are, of course, after-after parties to get to, and Crow was just one stop in a long night.
Late in her set, Crow said “this goes out to my Detroit buddy” as she eased into “Picture,” her hit duet with Kid Rock (sorry, there was no Rock appearance on this night). She segued the song into her own “If It Makes You Happy,” which led into “Soak Up the Sun,” a nice sentiment on a cold January night.
Crow, who was introduced to the stage by WYCD-FM’s (99.5) Dr. Don, turned the attention on the crowd and the evening’s cause at one point in her set. “We heard you raised $4.8 million tonight, you should feel good about yourselves,” she said. “Celebrate yourselves.”