Review – The Counting Crows Proved That Live Music is The Best Kind of Music

303 Magazine, Morgan Bia, Counting Crows, Mark Tepsic, Live, Pepsi Center, Ed Kowalczyk, John Paul Roney, Boom Forest, Adam Duritz

The Counting Crows came to the Pepsi Center on July 18 with openers Boom Forest and Live for their “25 Years and Counting 2018 Tour.” At the show, The Crows upheld the fact that the best part of going to any concert is the live experience you get that can’t be replicated by just listening to your SoundCloud or Spotify. Getting to see what makes each musician unique, their improvisation, the mistakes that could happen and your favorite artist talking to the crowd — these are all a part of that experience. The Crows put on a live performance that sets them apart from even listening to one of their live albums. Lead singer, Adam Duritz, smoothly transitioned to each song by speaking about relatable situations in his life, in a slam poetry style. It was like a Broadway show, telling a story about life’s paths, overuse of technology, struggles, love and spirituality.

Boom Forest was a breath of fresh air, with soothing, folk-influenced music. The foreman of the group, John Paul Roney has made it clear that he believes social media and technology are consuming our society. Roney gave segway for the upcoming emotional experience by relaxing the crowd with his smooth voice, chill beats and kept it simple with his two-man band. However, he wasn’t timid at all in discussing society’s obsession with technology. Roney went on to declare his disdain for social media during his set. “I hate it [social media] so much, and I always have, that I wrote a song about it, it’s called “Crying Eyes” for all you out there who hate it too.” At the end of his set, he asked the crowd to follow their Instagram account, admitting that it was quite hypocritical of him to do so.

303 Magazine, Morgan Bia, Counting Crows, Mark Tepsic, Live, Pepsi Center, Ed Kowalczyk, John Paul Roney, Boom Forest, Adam Duritz
Paul Roney of Boom Forest

After a 30-minute set break, Live hit the stage. It was a reunion of the popular ’90s alternative and classic-rock band with The Crows, who had toured in the mid-’90s together during the height of their success. The lead singer of the multiplatinum band from Pennsylvania, Ed Kowalczyk said, “I just want to turn off all the news and go to rock ‘n’ roll concerts for the rest of my life.” Clearly, the agreed common theme was to let go of your tech for a while and simply enjoy the performance and live music. It looked like the crowd thoroughly agreed with him, enjoying themselves, providing roars of laughter, clapping and showing extreme delight. The band moved into, what is now considered a rock classic, “I Alone” — a song that has that perfect combination of hard and soft. It was the kind of music that gives the audience an emotional reaction.

Kowalczyk forgot the lyrics to an entire song and joked about how he drank too much Jack Daniels. One might give him a free pass for such a mistake, after such a long absence from the scene (the band just recently rejoined for this tour). They continued to play and the crowd paid little attention to this mistake, just another part of a real live performance, pun intended. Although Kowalczyk did forget his own song lyrics, he was quickly able to redeem himself after the audience requested an encore. Live came back onstage to perform one of their biggest hits, “Lightning Crashes,” a song that beautifully represents the cycle of birth, life and death. Emotion resonated throughout the entire venue and the performance was nothing less than captivating, to say the least.

303 Magazine, Morgan Bia, Counting Crows, Mark Tepsic, Live, Pepsi Center, Ed Kowalczyk, John Paul Roney, Boom Forest, Adam Duritz
Lead singer Ed Kowalczyk of Live

The Crows started their reign of success in 1994 and, unlike Live, have continued making music throughout the years. While some would consider The Crows an overnight success, Duritz made it clear that they constantly immerse themselves in music. “Every night we wanted to play music, to rehearse music, to listen to music. We were just hoping someone notice us, then you did and you still do,” Duritz said with appreciation before singing “Round Here.” They were more than just noticed by spectators — diehard fans sang out every lyric to their favorite songs, word for word. Their continued success and absolute love for performing shows allowed the band to come off as more than just well seasoned.

“All of a sudden I had this horrible feeling, like this whole thing was gonna be over [his relationship] and I mean, that’s all we want in life is just to find anything, something, permanent because everything is so temporary and you just wanna find some person, something, that isn’t.” – Adam Duritz.

The Crows, particularly Duritz, added another dimension to their music and truly brought the performance to life. It wasn’t just about stringing together all their hit songs and making a few shout-outs to the crowd. Duritz talked to the crowd as if he was telling us a story in between songs. It seemed like everything he said had meaning as he spoke while flawlessly transitioning songs. This time, he talked about something everyone can relate to, feeling like you’re at a stalemate in life — going nowhere.  “All the poignant writing in the world doesn’t make a difference,” Duritz said. “In a band, all you do is go places, but you’re not going anywhere at all.” This was the prelude to the song, “God of Ocean Tides,” the first song Duritz wrote for Somewhere Under Wonderland, which was the bands first original release since their 2008 album Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.

The Crows performed with intensity and passion during this show, that superseded just listening to their albums. Never did the meaning of the word “depth” make more sense than at this concert. Unless you’ve seen The Crows perform live, you haven’t seen all they have to offer. However, the crowd did seem confounded when they did not perform, possibly their most popular song, “Mr. Jones.” Although there was some surprise about that, and a little discontent, the group did put out a set list prior to the show, already confirming the song wouldn’t be played. Hits such as, “Omaha” with its distinct accordion sound and “Colorblind” — one of their most romantic and mellow songs — really exhibited the wide scope of their capability, driving home the expressive and powerful experience of this concert. With or without “Mr. Jones,” the show was still a unique performance and an overall spiritual and sensational experience in itself.

  1. One of the worst reviews I have ever read!!! They don’t go by “The Crows.” Just call them by their name. And the song is called Round Here, not Around Here. I get it, in this B city the labor pool is tough but please… check your staff. Bad journalism.

    1. Not the best performance from “The Crows” I’ve ever seen I’m afraid. Too much like Show Tunes for me. Good, but not Great.

    2. Agreed! The show was terrible. Ive owned all their albums and grew up a fan. This show was a birthday present to myself and after months, such a disappointment. The playlist sucked, dont waist your time or money.

    1. Seth, you do realize you linked the same article three times, yes?

      I agree with Edie. While the article was informative and spoke well of the show, referring to The Counting Crows as ‘The Crows’ was lazy. Not to mention the fact that there is a 1950’s R&B group called The Crows.

      If you’re going to write, take the time to be accurate.

  2. Major disappointment all the way around for me! Starting with seeing one of my all time favorite bands during the summer at an indoor venue, rather than at Red Rocks (like a few years back, which was fantastic). Then the whole issue of sitting in a box towards the back of the Pepsi Center and no jumbo screens up, to provide those with the ability to see the band up close (which I have never, ever experienced at any venue before for any event)…Not sure who dropped the ball on that one, meaning the Counting Crows or the Pepsi Center but it sucked! And lastly, felt the show was too much flashing lights and stage production, which I believe is not the true essences of this amazing band (or perhaps that’s because it was all I could see from my seats)!

    I do realize that this was a more significant tour than usual and willing to cut them slack for trying to be a little more over the top than normal but never thought in my wildest dreams I would leave their show half way through so frustrated and disappointed.

    But remember all…this is just one silly lady’s opinion, so please be gentle with your comments back ?

    1. I totally agree. I saw them last night, July 24th, bc my girlfriend knew I haven’t seen them since they came on the seen and they were at a music festival but only played a short set then all the while no one knew the songs we were listening to in 94-05 we still going to be treasured years later. We got out tickets before it even said live would be there. Honestly, like you, we left early and not just to beat the traffic but only bc they played one song from the same tour they got popular on. They should have played more of the 90s musics and add a few of their new music. Highly disappointed because their songs sounded more country then anything. I’m from Oklahoma and I do love country which if you ask me country and rock are the best concerts to go through. I love ran but we all know if you want to have the best time go to a rock concert and you will love it. To be honest, aferre leaving to their last song of the night I thought live put on the show I my gf bought 250$ tickets for. Live got the crowd going and it brought up memories from the 90s scene or late 90s right before alternative and rock took on a new evolution. Live was the mean attraction for me even though I never saw them before I will next time they go on tour or even if they open for a disappointing band I saw last night in the counting crows. Another thing was the fact that he sat giving speaches, which I loved that part along how he introduced boom forest which also seemed to sound better… but I saw how out of shape he was and compared to live who aren’t young anymore either, he really didn’t do anything. He wouldn’t even lean to give the fans he has had from the time the came on the scene a simple high five. The performance was laze and it wasn’t an annerversary perfermans like his promoter made it seem with the name of 25 years and counting as the tour name. He played all his new country style music but as I mentioned before rock and country are the best to see live. So I wasn’t too pissed but the price paid by here to give me an awesome b day I look past bc live saved them from everyone booing. It seemed as though live has gotten used to opening for them and how the audience wanted to feel with them coming out so they asked everyone to start getting hyped up halfway into their set. Just can’t help but shake my head at how pissed I was bc as it says they won’t play mr Jones. I loved hearing round here but I would have loved mr Jones way more.

  3. Just left the show and feel very disappointed with Counting Crows. They didn’t play many of their hit songs (Mr Jones, Hangin Around) I think they owe it to their fans to play the music that people came to see! Won’t be paying to see them again!

  4. Left the 8/14 concert and was disappointed for one reason, and it’s more than ‘he didn’t sing Mr. Jones’. The set list was great initially. He started off with Mrs. Potter to get everyone ramped up and took it slow for about 30 minutes. Then, for the next 50 minutes, he gradually pumped it up. Songs got faster and more upbeat leading to the ultimate conclusion…Spain. Everyone at the concert was just about to climax from the hype and he went with a song that, in my opinion, had no place in the latter part of the list. Could have been any other peice and I would’ve reconciled with the fact that he ended it on a high note. But nope, he tickled the audiophile g-spot and walked out before things got spicy. Haven’t been this disappointed since FOB released Mania.

  5. This was the worst concert I’ve ever been too! Play the songs people want to hear. If they are going on the road for a 25 years and counting tour they should thank their fans. People were falling asleep listening to him blab on… just play the dang songs! Not a showman.

  6. I just saw this concert yesterday in Tinley Park, IL. Live was great. Counting Crows- on the other hand, sucked. Musically, the band sounded good. And when Adam Duritz actually decided to sing the songs, he sounded good too. However, he did so much ad-libbing that none if their popular songs even sounded the same. I understand that live performances are designed for some ad-libbing and extending the songs. But you still have to maintain the integrity of the songs. This is especially true for what is basically a “nostalgia” tour. People paid money to hear the songs they loved from the ’90s. To have that expectation, but then have every song be a complete departure from the original form was very disappointing. I’ve never seen more people leave a concert early than I saw last night during their performance.

    The night would have been much better if Live had been the headliner, with Counting Crows opening.

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