Counting Crows failed to impress on this outing, fronting for Maroon 5. Seeing them in the same spot six years ago (co-headlining but really opening for John Mayer) Counting Crows blew me away. This time around, it all seemed very familiar: the short set, the pretty boy headliner. They opened with a long, elegiac version of Rain King, which included bits of Mr. Jones, that set the tone for the rest of the show. A bit slow, poorly paced (mostly due to being compressed into 75 minutes), but with some substantial jams coming out of nowhere. Adam Duritz, his voice in fine form, nonetheless seemed to have forgotten the melody to his own songs. He sang the right words, but they seemed wholly disconnected from the music playing around him. Never was this more apparent than during Mr. Jones. The audience wanted to sing along but the tune was virtually unrecognizable.
Right around the time they were picking up steam, after Insignificant and Mr. Jones, the Counting Crows launched into two slower tracks When I Dream Of Michelangelo and Children in Bloom . The breaks were on, even though Children in Bloom ended in a searing jam, the rest of the set lost a crowd who were there for Maroon 5. Still, between extended versions of Ghost Train and A Murder of One was a stellar, albeit brief, run through Hanging Tree where the band clicked and it was magic.
Counting Crows have always been an expert jam band, all their collective talents were on display tonight. But for whatever reason (or the obvious one), it never clicked with the crowd. The encore of A Long December brought a cheer from the crowd, but the song itself was quickly forgotten. The best part of their encore was a long plea to the crowd to get out and vote in November, which Duritz said was the ultimate symbol of patriotism. His passionate remarks hit the mark. The rest of the encore, sadly, fell on deaf ears.
One thing worth nothing: the Counting Crows put together an amazing background. Their set was dolled up like the side of a building (think the stage of Saturday Night Live) with a clock tower, windows and steps. Each window as a screen, along with a larger screen below and there were streetlamps along the side of stage. It was like a concert on a city corner; it was that authentic. The lighting and visual imagery were some of the most thoughtful and poetic I have ever seen at a rock concert.
Counting Crows Setlist
Lean on Me intro
Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
When I Dream Of Michelangelo
Children in Bloom
A Murder of One
A Long December
California Dreamin’ outro