Boise is treated to a rare tour-opening spot as two great bands from the 90s showed us what they have left in the tank today, over 25 years after they got started.
Live’s 1994 sophomore album Throwing Copper is one of my favorites of all time, and although none of their other work has reached that level of inspirational, raw, and deep rock and roll, I was thrilled to see the reunited band was opening for Counting Crows. After a nearly decade-long hiatus, the original lineup is back together and not only touring but recording new music. Their new single, “Love Lounge”, was the second song they played on this opening night of this nationwide tour.
Thankfully, although they have seven studio albums under their belts, they knew what the people wanted to see, myself included. Of the 12 songs they played in addition to the brand new track, six were from their best effort, the aforementioned Copper. The other six were sprinkled among their debut, third, and fourth albums – which seems like an understanding of how to please the crowd and an acknowledgement that the music they were making shortly before calling it quits in 2008 was not very good.
Immediately upon strutting on stage and starting into “All Over You”, the crowd was engaged and excited. More importantly, the band was fired up and giving it all they had. Ed Kowalczyk’s voice was tremendous and sounded as good as ever, and boy has that guy taken care of himself. He had plenty of pipes and energy as he basically jumped around and kicked ass for an hour. Guitarist Chad Taylor was seen gleefully running back and forth across the stage – when he wasn’t stomping and high-stepping as he played.
Towards the end of the set Ed played a solo acoustic guitar version of “Turn My Head” before the band returned for a spiritual and epic take on “Lightning Crashes” to close out the show. Each and every member of the band seemed to be genuinely giddy to be back doing what they love. Between the passion, energy, and terrific vocals and instrumentation, their set would prove to be the highlight of the evening, and I can’t wait to see them headline their own tour sometime soon.
All Over You
Pain Lies on the Riverside
The Dolphin’s Cry
Selling the Drama
Pillar of Davidson
Turn My Head
Spotify setlist link:
Headliner: Counting Crows
Adam Duritz and crew broke out on the scene in a big way with 1993’s August and Everything After, which I contend is one of the finest albums of my lifetime. Yes, Adam is a bit whiny, but the songs are so good and he had so much passion on them that it was hard not to get sucked in. America agreed, and behind “Mr. Jones”, “Round Here”, and “Omaha”, the band was catapulted into immediate superstardom. They have followed that up with some solid music, and some that fell well short of that type of description – but they have managed to stay more than relevant for three decades, which is no small feat.
Just why they chose to open their 2018 tour in Boise, I do not know. In interviews Adam claimed his love for the city, and although this city is truly badass, I suspect it had more to do with wanting a couple of dates to work out the kinks before hitting a “real” town. Either way, it was pretty exciting to get to see them at the start, while they were still full of energy and raring to go. Except, they didn’t seem to be at all. It may be unfair to criticize the band, because they live and die by Adam – and on this night, he didn’t bring his “A” game.
I will try not to belabor the point because I have a lot of respect for the guy and his songwriting abilities, but Adam was a disappointment on this night. Two reasons for this: first, he was way, way too chatty. After each of the first six songs he would stop and tell a story about where and why he wrote the next song. That kind of openness and exposure can be pretty cool, but this was excessive. Most of the stories didn’t really go anywhere and were longer than the songs themselves; on multiple occasions he sat on one of the stage monitors and rambled on for several minutes, causing them to no doubt play fewer songs than they had intended. Adam realized and acknowledged this about halfway through the show and the chatter dissipated greatly.
However, the second and more egregious reason this was a disappointment was that when Adam finally got around to singing in front of his fantastic band (complete with mandolin and accordion on multiple songs) he didn’t give anywhere near his full effort. Too many songs were lacking anything near the level of passion and intensity that makes the songs so great on record. That is the thing that I cannot forgive him for: when he sang one of my favorites, he didn’t really sing it. This was the ultimate letdown in my opinion, particularly for someone so tied to their emotional (whiny) singing style.
Many people were most upset for what they didn’t hear: “Mr. Jones”. I was not all that surprised that they didn’t play everyone’s favorite song, but it does seem that after acknowledging that we got screwed with all of the stories, he could have thrown us a bone. I found it funny that when I set up the Spotify playlist for this concert the next day, the top of Spotify’s recommended songs list was “Mr. Jones”. The real shame for me was that we only got four songs from August, and only two of those were sang with anything representing what those songs deserved. I had been told going in by a couple of friends that Adam can be on or off, and you never know. Apparently even on night one of the tour, it was an off night. At least Live brought plenty of passion, energy, and excitement – otherwise this would have been an overpriced letdown.
Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
I Wish I Was a Girl
A Long December
Spotify setlist link: