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The Music Scene

Posted: 1:53 a.m. Monday, June 23, 2014

Concert review: Counting Crows rock through diverse set in Atlanta 

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Adam Duritz
Melissa Ruggieri
Adam Duritz is always filled with emotion on stage.


Counting Crows photo
Melissa Ruggieri
Duritz and guitarist Dan Vickrey were in sync throughout the show.
Duritz photo
Melissa Ruggieri
Adam Duritz said in an interview before the tour kickoff that there were no guarantees that hits would be played during the band's shows.
Counting Crows photo
Melissa Ruggieri
Duritz leans in.
Glen Phillips photo
Melissa Ruggieri
A youthful-looking Glen Phillips handled Toad the Wet Sprocket's biggest hits of the '90s.

By Melissa Ruggieri

The unpredictability of Adam Duritz gives every Counting Crows concert an underlying thrill.

Will he be chatty or removed? Happy to be on stage or just going through the motions? Will the set list – which he noted in our recent interview is an ever-changing beast – highlight the hits or concentrate on album cuts?

At Sunday night’s sold-out show at Chastain Park Amphitheatre – with Toad the Wet Sprocket opening – Duritz and Counting Crows smeared a bit of everything into their two-hour set.

Duritz isn’t capable of faking emotion and from the moment he yelped out the first lines of the opener “’Round Here,” you could feel the desperation in his voice and see the sadness in his eyes.

Of course, it’s sometimes hard to see anything past that nest of dreadlocks woven atop his head – though you couldn’t miss the bright A Tribe Called Quest logo blaring off his T-shirt.

As the six other Crows – guitarist Dan Vickrey, drummer Jim Bogios, bassist Millard Powers, guitarist/pedal steel/mandolin player David Immergluck, keyboardist/accordionist Charlie Gillingham and guitarist David Bryson – blazed through the band’s soulful pop-rock, Duritz engaged through motions such as hugging himself and stuffing his hands in the front pockets of his jeans while he sang.

The band’s new album, “Somewhere Under Wonderland,” arrives in September, and Duritz and Co. offered a welcome sprinkling of preview tracks, including the country rocker “Cover Up the Sun” and the guitar-centric “Scarecrow,” which contained echoes of Tom Petty.

Later in the show, Vickrey provided lovely acoustic guitar on the pensive ballad, “God of Ocean Tides,” which Duritz explained was the first song written for the upcoming album.

With a deep waver in his voice, Duritz unveiled the prayer-like “Colorblind” and the band’s rendition of Teenage Fanclub’s “Start Again,” which was compelling in its simplicity.

But the first jump-to-feet response came during the accordion solo – and how often can you say that? – in “Omaha,” though the mostly engaged crowd returned to an upright position for “Big Yellow Taxi,” given a thicker groove live than on their poppy radio cover.

While “A Long December” threatened to turn into a too-long singalong, Duritz proved a masterful ringleader – and one who appeared genuinely happy to share his words and emotions.

Fans who remember the early-‘90s heyday of Toad the Wet Sprocket had to relish the quartet’s hour-long opening slot.

Singer Glen Phillips, in bare feet and cargo shorts, looks about a decade younger than his 43 years with a voice undiminished by time.

The band’s mellifluous sound has also aged well, exemplified by a taut rendition of “Something’s Always Wrong” and “Come Down,” the band’s last radio hit before calling it quits in 1998.

But time – and a successful crowd-funding campaign – has a way of mending past grievances and last year Toad reconvened for the album, “New Constellation,” its first new material since 1997.

While the band – Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols,  bassist Dean Dinning, drummer Randy Guss, and, for the live shows, Jonathan Kingham on keys, lap steel guitar and mandolin – focused on the familiar during their set, they did plug in the new “California Wasted,” a pleasant mid-tempo offering filled with their trademark harmonies.

But, as expected, the Chastain crowd put down their forks to sing along to the gentle sway of “All I Want” and the Birkenstock-wearer anthem, “Walk on the Ocean,” which benefited from Kingham’s mandolin flourishes.

While Toad the Wet Sprocket wasn’t the most memorable band of the ‘90s, hearing them again made you appreciate their contributions to the modern rock-pop canon of the era.

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Melissa Ruggieri

About Melissa Ruggieri

Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment and maintains the Atlanta Music Scene blog on accessAtlanta.

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