It’s hard to believe that the Counting Crows are approaching two decades since the 1993 debut release of their acclaimed “August and Everything After.” They are presently touring in support of their 2012 album of cover songs, “Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation).” The Sunday evening show at Chicago’s sold-out Riviera Theatre represented a solid mix between re-worked covers and Counting Crows classics.
[Check out the photo slideshow of this show, and peruse a full gallery of all artists.]
The lights dimmed shortly after 8:45 p.m. and Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” was queued as an intro. They opened with “Sullivan Street” and front-man Adam Duritz looked relaxed in jeans and a vintage Devo t-shirt. The Riviera stage was pushed to its capacity with guitarists Dan Vickrey, David Bryson and Dave Immergluck flanking Duritz toward the front of the stage; while bassist Millard Powers, drummer Jim Bogios and Charlie Gillingham competed with Duritz’s piano behind the others.
“Untitled (Love Song)” offered the Crows’ rendition of the bluesy track originally performed by The Romany Rye. Bryson and Vickrey imparted warm and soulful guitar work to redefine the original, perfectly complementing Duritz’s voice. Duritz spoke sparingly between songs, offering “This is a song about a man who’s dreaming” prior to “St. Robinson in His Cadillac Dream.” Duritz casually sat upon his piano during the song and improvised at the end, morphing the track into ‘Crimson and Clover” to finish in classic Duritz syle.
Duritz said, “I’m not the talking type, just playing a lot of songs. I don’t have much to say, and when I do say something it’s pretty much bullshit.” After a fan shouted out a request he jokingly countered with, “I’m calling the songs here, this is not a f–king democracy. It’s a benevolent dictatorship. Bless the lord.” He introduced “Start Again” by saying, “This is the first time we’ve played this song since we recorded it. It’s by a scottish band called Teenage Fanclub.”
Fan favorites “A Long December” and “Mr. Jones” brought most of the fans to their feet, not an easy task given the mellow atmosphere displayed by the crowd. Duritz was in top form vocally though the band did suffer from subtle feedback that existed throughout the set, most notable during gentle tracks like “A Long December.” Still, the aforementioned mellow nature coupled with the Crows’ solid musicianship (ranging from the country-influenced “Return of the Grievous Angel” to fan favorite, up-tempo “Mr. Jones”) easily overshadowed the few minor technical difficulties on the night.
Counting Crows setlist:
Untitled (Love Song) (The Romany Rye cover)
I Wish I Was a Girl
St. Robinson in His Cadillac Dream
Hospital (Coby Brown cover)
Black and Blue
Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
Start Again (Teenage Fanclub cover)
Recovering the Satellites
A Long December
Like Teenage Gravity (Kasey Anderson cover)
Return of the Grievous Angel (Gram Parsons cover)
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover)
Holiday in Spain
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