When the Heinz Company popularized the phrase "The best things come to those who wait," they were talking condiments, not concerts, but the 80s ad slogan could also describe Sheila E. and the E-Train's recent performances at the City Winery. Due to the pandemic, the band's two-night stint had been pushed back about two years, but judging from the energy of the crowd at the first of two Saturday evening shows, that just made the excitement that much greater. Fresh off of receiving a 2021 Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, along with her father, Latin jazz and rock great Pete Escovdeo, the intimate concert served as a reminder of the Queen of Percussion's talent, versatility, and charisma.
Opening with "El Alma De Carnival," from Pete Escovedo's 1986 album, Flying South, the E-Train chugged through an eclectic set that touched on different sounds and eras of Sheila E's career, past and present, while showcasing her skill as a singer, percussionist, and drummer. Whether leading a singalong of "Yellow Submarine" or grooving on some intense Oakland funk, the show had a relaxed, welcoming vibe, which Sheila E. ascribed to having cut her teeth playing small theaters and clubs. "I feel like I'm at home and you are in my living room, and we're all hanging out-except you all are eating, and I'm not!" she quipped. Between songs, she shared stories from throughout her personal life and career, including how she trained to be an Olympic track star before she fell in love with playing music at age 15, when she first sat in with her father's band, and a hilarious anecdote about what happened when she and her brother joined Marvin Gaye's 26-piece band, and someone threw in an extra beat during a practice session.
Sheila E's warmth and positivity spilled out into the crowd as she lightly bantered with audience members and invited them to dance between the tables and around the stage. And that inclusivity was part of the point: Toward the end of the set she spoke of the high suicide rate in the U.S., particularly among young people, and asked everyone to turn to a stranger and say "I love you" before the band brought down the house with her biggest hit, "The Glamorous Life." Anyone who couldn't feel the joy in the room might be dead inside.
See more of Rob's photos here
Share this article