Counting Crows – 2001 College Tour Review

Aquarian Weekly

10/31/01

INTIMATE WHISPERS Counting Crows William Paterson University 10/19/01

Wayne, New Jersey

The Counting Crows mini-college tour swung by Wayne New Jersey’s William Paterson University Recreation Center last Friday, where a few thousand kids braved the steaming heat and brutal acoustics for nearly two hours of inspired music and whispered musings.

Counting Crows, more specifically, its singer/songwriter and poet laureate, Adam Duritz, was made for such nights: A receptive, angst-ridden audience ready for a serenade of lost love and disillusioned melancholia.

Duritz meandered on stage with his charges to announce that his voice was ravaged and proposed “a mellow night” of intimate performance. But this was a set of variant intensity, highlighted by new songs from a current project still in its creative incubation period and rousing versions of old favorites.

And by evening’s end, the youthful and fervent audience realized, more completely, the layers that lie behind not only the band’s live performance, but its meticulous song structuring as well.

The new stuff included “Black and Blue”, an infectious 70s’ style tune with a pop sensibility more reminiscent of the Crows debut work, “Richard Manuel is Dead”, a fine tribute to the sound and personality of Manuel’s 60s’ group, The Band, “Carriage”, a lilting torch song recalling the pain of parting, and “Miami”, the strongest of the bunch, displaying the rhythmic chug of the band’s more recent offerings.

Although Duritz is the obvious focal point, emotionally and physically – now a more burly, imposing figure than in previous appearances — the band has a personality best described as camaraderie. To watch the six musical pieces interact sonically and personally on stage is to witness a true mesh of distinction. As a unit, the Counting Crows are less performing songs, as they are working parts of them.

The evening’s catalog material was peppered by Duritz’s inspired rants of longing and loneliness, taking time out to periodically berate and cajole the hooting throng, punctuated by chilling versions of “Anna Begins”, “High Life” and full audience sing-alongs of “Omaha” and “Rain King”, the latter infused with a melodic reading of Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” during the bridge.

The best part of this, and any Counting Crows show, is the immediacy of the event. No two are alike, and as an observer you feel as though you may be seeing the band in its debut or swansong, and not some knock-off public relations appearance. Something the genre’s stalwarts used to be all about.

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