–By Sean Derrick
The Matchbox 20 / Counting Crows show on Tuesday night at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre was supposed to be a show of two seasoned bands showcasing perfected sets. While both bands are veterans to the music scene, hitting their peak closer to the turn of the century, what fans got was something a bit different in contrasting styles.
When Counting Crows hit the stage with “Round Here” from 1993’s huge hit August and Everything After their styling of the song shouted immediately that they were not intent on playing their songs like they are on the albums. In fact, for “Round Here” lead singer Adam Duritz acted more like a poet giving a reading than a singer. It’s not like the song was ever very upbeat, but Duritz’s variation made it seem that much more alien in nature.
In fact Duritz didn’t start to act like he did when I saw them at the Fair Saint Louis in 2009 until the third song, “Dislocation”.
Throughout the band’s 90 minute set they played extended jams, which can be a good thing if you at least provide some structure to a few of their main tracks. Instead they got a fanatically gum chewing front man and no “Mr. Jones” (How can you just cut out your most recognizable song?). It’s not like they aren’t doing the track this tour. They had it on the setlist, but for some reason did not play it.
I am not sure the reason, perhaps they jammed too long on one of the previous songs, but if given a choice I would have rather heard “Mr. Jones” over “Palisades Park”. I wasn’t alone, several people just around me were wondering the same thing.
They made up for it though with a vibrant lighting, a strong 2nd-half (sans “Mr. Jones”), Matchbox 20’s vocalist Rob Thomas came out to help sing “Hanginaround”, which was great, and finished off strong with a great version of “Rain King”.
Matchbox 20’s set was alive from the first note of “Real World” as Thomas was already geared up for the set from the get-go, no warm-up needed.
Storming through hit after hit in their 100 minute set Thomas and company (guitarist Kyle Cook, bassist Brian Yale, guitarist/Drummer Paul Doucette, with touring musicians guitarist Matt Beck and drummer Stacy Jones) presented a robust and vibrant set, touching on all four of the band’s albums.
Thomas was a bundle of energy, so much so that at one point near the end of the show he literally grabbed the bottom of his shirt and wrung out a lot of sweat that had collected in the fibers. It was disgusting and thrilling at the same time as any doubters (were there any?) to his commitment to giving it his all were surely silenced at that sight.
They had several highlights, but “Back 2 Good” and “Disease” stood out for me in showing their wide range.
One of the most dynamic features of their set was the incredible light rigging that was used. The system consisted of 14 pods of lights that moved, spun and changed color all while being positioned to suit the song. The whole setup could move as one piece bringing the lights down low as they did during “Back 2 Good” for a more intimate-style session, or just hanging a couple pods on the back wall using them as the primary lighting features. It felt like it was, at times, it’s own living breathing autonomous part of the band. By far the best lighting I have seen at a concert in a long time.
Overall, this concert was very good, despite a few of the previously mentioned issues. It encompassed a best of both worlds feel and dynamic. While both bands had contrasting styles they actually complimented each other in ways that weren’t immediately obvious, creating more appreciation for the other band’s in their style and complexities. This is a show certainly worth spending your hard earned money on.
Check out the photo gallery after the setlists.
Matchbox 20 Setlist:
Girl Like That
She’s So Mean
If You’re Gone
Hand Me Down
How Far We’ve Come
So Sad So Lonely
Back 2 Good
Counting Crows Setlist:
When I Dream of Michelangelo
Elvis Went to Hollywood
A Long December
Hanginaround (With Rob Thomas)