Aug 23, 2007

August 22nd And Everything After

FirstEnergy Park - Lakewood, NJ
This is hands down the best time I have ever had at a concert - three of my favorite bands who I have been listening to since middle school performing in a ballpark where Ryan Howard once played.  It doesn't get much better than that!

Asbury Park Press - Asbury Park, NJ  (August 17, 2007)

The concert was held in the outfield of the ballpark.  All of the area around the stage in the outfield was general admission, so you were able to get as close to the stage as you wanted, as long as you got there and claimed your spot early enough.  We weren't right up against the stage, but we were only about three or four people back on the left hand side of the stage.

There was a very light, but persistent rain that started between Collective Soul and Live, but it didn't in any way detract from the event.  In fact, it made the show even better, and not just because it was cool and refreshing on a hot August night near the Jersey shore.

Collective Soul took the stage first, and they were fantastic!  My only complaint was that the set wasn't longer.  They started off with Listen off of their third album, Disciplined Breakdown.  This was followed by Heavy and Run (both from their fourth album, Dosage) and Better Now, from their most recent album, Youth.

The fifth song of their set was one I hadn't heard before.  It's a track called Hollywood that is a part of their upcoming album which is hitting stores on Tuesday.  If this song is any indication, it's going to be a great record!  This is kind of song you want to blast in your car when you're driving with the windows down on a warm summer day.

The next two songs were two of their biggest hits, The World I Know and December.  Midway through December, singer Ed Roland mixed in the refrain from The Killers 2004 single All These Things That I've Done by singing "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier".  Both The World I Know and December are from Collective Soul's self-titled second album from 1995.  I can't begin to guess how many times I played that CD when I was in high school.  Speaking of CDs, their set ended with first track off of the first album.  It was released in 1993, and it's the first CD that I ever purchased - Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid.  The song was the band's first hit single from 1993 - Shine.

The second band of the night was Live, and this was the first time that the rain became a part of the show.  The steady light drizzle combined with the heat of the stage lights gave the effect of steam rising from the bald head of singer Ed Kowalczyk throughout the entire set.  It wasn't subtle either.  You couldn't have done a better job of making it look like the top of someone's head was emitting smoke if you

I'm less familiar with Live's music than I am with the other two bands.  I only had two of their albums back in high school: Throwing Copper (1994) and Secret Samadhi (1997).  I played Throwing Copper as much as I played any of the records released by Collective Soul or Counting Crows in the 90's, but I didn't listen to Secret Samadhi very often, and with the exception of a few of their singles that have been released in the years that followed, I really haven't followed them too closely, but it was a terrific set and I enjoyed even the songs that I wasn't familiar with.

The songs from their setlist that I knew were All Over You, Selling The Drama, I Alone and Lightning Crashes (off of Throwing Copper), Lakini's Juice (from Secret Samadhi) and The Dolphin's Cry (from their 1999 album The Distance To Here).  They also did an amazing cover of the 1956 Johnny Cash hit, I Walk The Line.  The songs I wasn't as familiar with included Mother Earth Is A Vicious Crowd and Mirror Song (from 1991's Mental Jewelry), They Stood Up For Love (from the same album as The Dolphin's Cry), Heaven (from 2003's Birds of Pray) and three songs off of their latest album, Songs From Black Mountain: The River, Where Do We Go From Here, and Wings.

Counting Crows have been one of my favorite bands since I first saw the music video for Mr. Jones on MTV when I was 13 years old.  It's the third track off of their debut album, August and Everything After.  It was one of the first CDs that I ever bought, and I played that thing from front to back so many times that I know every word to every song on the album.  The first song off of that album is Round Here.  It's one of my favorite songs of all-time, and it was the first song they performed at last night's show.  Adam sang it beautifully as a mashup with the second to last song off of the album, Raining In Baltimore.

I was extremely happy to hear Round Here, but not particularly surprised.  After all, it's one of the band's biggest hits.  However, I was pretty surprised when the next song they played was Omaha.  It's the second song off of August and Everything After, and although it's a wonderful song, it wasn't an especially big hit.  I'm pretty sure that it wasn't even released as a single.

The next song was their biggest hit, Mr. Jones.  The crowd went wild and so did I, but this is when the wheels really started to turn in my head.  Mr. Jones is the third song off of August and Everything After.  So far, every song they played was from their debut album, and they were played in the same order as the record.  I was still thinking it might be a coincidence, but when the next song was Perfect Blue Buildings, I knew that it wasn't.  They were playing one of my favorite albums of all time in its entirety!  It was followed by Anna Begins, Time And Time Again and Rain King.  In my wildest dreams, I never would have expected this.  It was as close to a magical experience as I've ever had at a concert!

Adam Duritz has an incredible stage presence.  It's difficult to describe if you haven't seen a Counting Crows show before, but he throws himself completely into every song as if he was performing it for God instead of for a crowd of fans in South Jersey.  A lot of his songs include lyrics about the rain (including Rain King), and every time one of those lines came up, Adam stretched his hand out to the light drizzle of rain that was falling on the stage.

The next song after Rain King (both on the album and at the concert) was a slow ballad called Sullivan Street, and that's where this concert went from amazing to surreal.  Thankfully, someone in the crowd recorded what happened and shared on YouTube, because it has to be seen to be believed.

Adam seemed a little off at the beginning of the song, and we soon found out why.  Apparently, two people were fighting in the crowd.  Adam took notice of this and stopped the song to break up the fight and to scold them for fighting during the sensitive song.  I wasn't close enough to see where the fight was, but it was pretty damn funny and the crowd roared with laughter and cheers at the whole situation.

After Sullivan Street, the band finished off the album by playing Ghost Train and A Murder Of One.  They skipped over Raining In Baltimore, which makes sense because they played pretty much the entire song in the middle of Round Here at the start of the set.

When the band had finished the August and Everything After album, there was a brief intermission, after which they played some new music from their upcoming album.  A photo of the setlist was floating around online this morning, but I remember them being played in a slightly different order than what is listed on this sheet.  They started off with two harder rock songs called Insignificant and Cowboys.  The next three were slower songs: Washington Square, When I Dream Of Michelangelo, and Come Around.  All five of the new songs were amazing!  The first two reminded me of the music from their second album, Recovering The Satellites, while the last three reminded me of some of the more mellow tracks from August and Everything After.

The new album is called Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings, and it's coming out on November 6th.  They're also releasing a Deluxe Edition of August and Everything After that's due out in less than a month.  I will definitely be getting both of them, but before I get into that, there was one last song.

Adam talked to the audience about the new album during the second half of the show.  He mentioned that half of the album will be harder rock songs (Saturday Night) and the other half would be mellow and relaxing (Sunday Mornings).  After they played the five songs off of the new album, Adam said that they were going to send us all home with a lullaby, and they then closed the show with one of my favorite songs ever recorded by any band.  It's the last song from their 2002 album, Hard Candy, and it's called Holiday In Spain.  If you've never heard it, seek it out, because it's an absolutely beautiful song and the perfect way to end a perfect show.