Rob Thomas & Counting Crows rock Lakeview
After hours of torrential downpour and terrifying booms of thunder and lightning, the skies cleared and the sun reared its scorching head over the Lakeview Amphitheater for the arrival of The Counting Crows and Rob Thomas this past Friday evening. Masses of fans of both acts filed in to the Amphitheater ready to enjoy the night, despite the nasty humidity that lingered with the crowds. “Not going to lie, it looked like the weather was going to f*** us,” laughed Rob Thomas, “but now it’s only manageably humid.”
The most notable thing about Thomas’s act, in fact, was his overwhelming ability to relate to the crowd in a way that many artists struggle with. Explaining that he stems from New York himself, he understands the struggle of the wacky weather we consistently endure. He even made those in the lawn feel as if they were basically on stage with him. “Don’t think that just because I can’t see all of you,” Rob exclaimed while pointing out to the lawn-goers, “that I don’t feel you. You’re my people. I was never in these seats (pointing to inside seats); I went straight from there to here.”
Rob is undoubtedly a performer. His energy on stage is contagious and his ability to bring the crowd in to participate is what made the act such a success. He made a promise to the Syracuse crowd to “celebrate life in Syracuse, NY tonight,” and his promise was surely kept. His powerful vocals and the high-energy instrumentals that accompanied it flowed through the amphitheater with a certain celebratory feel. The set consisted of an even mix of new-time solo works and classic Matchbox Twenty era songs, along with classics and covers like “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. The set was a perfect balance of dance-inducing fun and irresistible synced crowd swaying and was accompanied by an impressive city-scape light display.
Although the front man’s flawless pipes were a big part of the high energy feel of the show, the moments in between are what made it a truly memorable experience. The silly energy between band-members on stage and Rob Thomas’s funky dance moves gave a new meaning to the word “show.” They didn’t just play their music; they made it a performance full of comedic mic twirling and crowd interaction. At one point Thomas walked along a side stage railing to put himself further into the crowd. He even went as far as to accept a single rose from a member of the audience and tuck it behind his ear during the performance of “Bent.”
The most inspiring aspect of Thomas’s performance was the inclusion of his past with Counting Crows. Rob Thomas and the group dedicated the simplified yet beautiful acoustic version of “3AM” they played to Counting Crows, explaining that they were one of their biggest influences as a musical group during the days of pre-fame Matchbox Twenty, and that more than half of the covers they played were renditions of Counting Crows songs. “One of the first bad reviews we ever got,” Thomas went on to explain, “said that we sounded like a band that stood in front of a mirror every day saying, ‘No, no, let ME be Adam Duritz next.’”
Ending with the upbeat classic “This is How a Heart Breaks,” Thomas left the stage with a bang. He kept the energy flowing throughout the entirety of the set and prepped the audience for what was bound to be followed by another great performance by Counting Crows
Before Counting Crows took the stage, the lights were turned off and Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” came on over the amphitheater sound system, instantly grabbing the audience’s attention. Transitioning into silence, the anticipation for what was next could be felt anywhere in the audience. The lights came on to show a David Bowie shirt-wearing Adam Duritz, belting out his strong vocals to the band’s opening song, “Round Here”
While Rob Thomas’s set was full of high-energy songs and upbeat moments, the final act was, on the contrary, slower and mellower overall. With the soothing sway of Adam Duritz’s voice, the crowd went from dancing and jumping around during Rob Thomas’s set to sitting back and just enjoying the music of Counting Crows.
The ability to control the emotions of the audience is what was truly remarkable about Counting Crows. The front man, Adam Duritz, has a way of throwing himself into the narrative of whatever song he may be belting out. With animated hand gestures and passionate subtle body movements, Adam has a way of making the audience feel what he wants them to feel during a song. At one point during “Colorblind,” despite the sickly heat, I actually got the chills from the passion flowing from the way he looked at his own hands and arms to express how the lyrics made him feel.
Aside from the highly emotional aspects of the set, it seemed as though the energy was low throughout the entirety of the set. The song choice made it this way right off the bat, and it seemed that even crowd favorites like “Mr. Jones” and “Big Yellow Taxi” were even slowed down to better fit the rest of the set. The melancholy feel of the majority of the set actually sent most people who were standing to sit back down in their seats, and it even drove a few to leave midway through the set.
However, those who stuck around until the end were not disappointed. The group seemed to really find their energy for the final four songs of the set, and left the crowd feeling more energized and upbeat. The relaxed and overall silly demeanor of Adam Duritz, with his dreadlocked hair and gum-chewing carefree attitude was the band’s saving grace because while the energy was kept rather low, interest could always be found in the actions of the front man and his interaction with the rest of the band.
Although he didn’t address the audience too frequently, when he did Adam Duritz was humorous and friendly. After ranting about a song for a minute or two, he explained, “I have this bad habit of getting up here and giving long introductions to songs that aren’t even coming up.” This gave the crowd a good laugh and helped transition into the higher energy second half of the set. Then came his introduction to “Earthquake Driver,” where he laughed as he explained his thoughts on what it was about: “”This next one is a song about…I don’t know what it’s about. It’s kinda about f******.”
So yes, the show was worth seeing and definitely an experience to be remembered, despite the fact that energy was rather low for the closing band. The melodic feeling of the set was interjected with humor and the soothing songs gave an overall enjoyable feel to the show in the end. Both Rob Thomas and Counting Crows kept up their promise to celebrate life in Syracuse, NY, and we can only hope they decide to come back again.
[symple_box color=”blue” text_align=”center” width=”” float=”none”]Set list for both acts
“Round Here” “Dislocation” “Mr. Jones” “Colorblind” “Four White Stallions” “Omaha” “Cover Up The Sun” “Anna Begins” “Miami” “Goodnight Elizabeth”/”Pale Blue Eyes” “The Ballad of El Goodo” (Big Star cover) “Big Yellow Taxi” (Joni Mitchell cover) “Earthquake Driver” “A Long December” “Hanginaround” Encore: “Palisades Park” “Rain King”
“…Something To Be” “Mockingbird” “Her Diamonds” “Fallin’ To Pieces” “Getting Late”/”That’s All Right” “Lonely No More” “Let’s Dance” (David Bowie cover) “Fire on the Mountain” “3AM” (Matchbox Twenty) “Someday” “Bent” (Matchbox Twenty) “Pieces” “Streetcorner Symphony” “Smooth” (Santana) “This Is How a Heart Breaks”[/symple_box]
Danielle DeRosa / The Fuze Magazine
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