It was the perfect feel good summer show. Counting Crows looking no worse for the wear despite being around almost a quarter of a century were in fine form for a highly enthusiast crowd at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta.
Everyone was in a good mood. Those in those exclusive tables up front, on the lawn way in the back and in the band as well. Bandleader Adam Duritz grinned often as he was on stage perform some of alternative rock radio’s classics as well as a few newer gems. At times it was as if he saw humor to the crowd’s reaction to the band.
All had reason to smile. They delivered. The band began the night swinging for the fences as they started the night with of their most famous songs, “Rain King”, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” and “Mr. Jones”. At times it’s hard to believe how many radio the band has during a six-year period of the ‘90s, but once doing the math… wow.
The Crows’ unique sound came into being just as grunge was peaking. The composition’s of Duritz were often introspective and quite deep at times and were often mixed with almost a contrasting jangle pop sound and when melodic ballads that rivaled any that were ever on the radio or put down on tape.
Duritz pretty much hasn’t changed. His hair remains the same. I often call him a rock and roll Sideshow Mel (of “Simpsons” fame) for his dreads. Only now the singer sport Buddy Holly framed glasses that makes him look even more scholarly than his lyrics are deep. Duritz has been able to tell stories for years, explain situations via song that can be appreciated by those into the song’s content as well as those into just the melodic aspect of the song.
Guitarists David Immerglück and Dan Vickrey were in fine form as Duritz made his way arround the stage in true front man form even holding the microphone out to the audience as they sand along to songs they all knew by heart. Granted, it has been a while since I’ve seen the band perform but I never remembered them having this much energy – even in their heyday of the ‘90s when I saw them quite a few times.
The band had fun with the songs that they’ve performed forever taking them into different directions as they expanded “Rain King” into more of a funky song that seemed to last longer than the original rendition.
Thrown in for good measure was a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and Kasey Anderson’s “Like Teenage Gravity”.
The band finished their set with “A Long December” that always had a deep meaning to a number of my friends. It was always kind of a special song as I remember one of my friends dealing with the terminal diagnosis of her fiancé when the album came out. I probably heard this song more times that anyone sould have. It was always a depressing song, but I know it helped her through her devastation, therefore although not one of my favorite songs however, I always had respect for it. And at one point was able to take my friend to see these guys perform it live – which was well worth the price of admission.
A three-song encore followed that was a little more upbeat. It began with “Palisades Park” followed by one of my favorite songs of the Crows, the upbeat, poppy “Hanginaround” and the night was finished with “Holiday in Spain”.
The show was a three-headed monster with mixed results. Opening the night was Hollis Brown. Hollis Brown is a rock and roll outfit whose stage presence and even style harkens to Cracker and Webb Wilder and the Nashvegans minus the sense of humor and with the country influences almost translucent. They were borderline more on indie/America with the real star of the band being guitarist Jonathan Bonilla. Bonilla owns the stage when he’s on it. He is reminiscent of a cross between Johnny Hickman (Cracker) and Warner Hodges (Jason and the Scorchers). He has a great stage presence and knows now to handle the axe. Singer Mike Montali looks almost like an anti-front man with his appearance but has a strong vocal presence. The band only played 20 minutes and boy did the time fly.
The middle act was Citizen Cope. I don’t know what to say here. Good musicianship but devoid of personality. I looked around at the crowd around me. I never saw so many people playing on their smart phones as I did during the set – and no, they weren’t taking pictures either.
The night however, belonged to Counting Crows. And they delivered.
Counting Crows Set List
Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
Elvis Went to Hollywood
Black and Blue
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover)
Like Teenage Gravity (Kasey Anderson cover)
Goodnight Elisabeth (Pale Blue Eyes alt)
Blues Run the Game (Jackson C. Frank cover)
A Long December
Holiday in Spain
– Dave Weinthal
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