Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.
It is a very short list of pop singers who deserve the sumptuous surroundings and spotless acoustics of Symphony Hall. Sunday night, Annie Lennox proved more than worthy of inclusion.
Perhaps it is typical for Lennox, or maybe she had a little extra adrenaline for the final show of her US tour, but for 90 stunning minutes she reaffirmed her status as one of the best white soul singers alive with a voice that sounded nearly untouched by the passage of time. Supported by a smart seven-piece band - including two indispensable female backing vocalists - Lennox, lithe in black pants and shiny black tank dress, was coolly sophisticated but never allowed that ice to suppress the fire in her songs.
Some in the sold-out crowd, which included actress-comedian Rosie O'Donnell, may have been less intimately familiar with the choppy synths of rocker "Ghost in My Machine" or the tensile, elongated notes of "Dark Road," both from her recent "Song of Mass Destruction" album. But they were appreciative, showering the new tunes with ovations as enthusiastic as the ones that greeted solo hits like the elegant "Walking on Broken Glass," Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" - rocked up and briefly transforming the hall into a thumping disco - and "Here Comes the Rain Again."
That last song, featuring an agreeable downshift in tempo, was part of a short, mostly solo piano set that included the keening "A Thousand Beautiful Things" and her '80s female empowerment anthem "Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves." She interrupted that number to tell a funny story about original duet partner Aretha Franklin, who at the time of the recording pulled Lennox's partner Dave Stewart aside and asked of the lyrics "what does she mean by 'ringing on their own bells?' "
Lennox is not done with the idea of women banding together to get things done. Prior to her encore she screened a short video on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa as a prelude to her optimistic new plea for action, "Sing."
She then took time to share some thoughts about other social and political concerns before putting a cap on the night with the wistful "Why."
In a classy move, Lennox invited her band, crew, and spitfire opening act Carina Round onstage for a final bow for a job well done.