On a hot summer night recently at the Austin360 Amphitheater, fans were treated to a nostalgic performance from not just the headliner Counting Crows, but also from the opening act Live. The name “25 Years and Counting,” is fitting for this musical celebration of two bands who emerged from the 90’s modern rock scene.
In late 2016, Live announced the original lineup would be getting back together and would start touring. “We are freshly reunited and performing with a confidence and ferocity that we can’t wait for people to experience,” said lead singer Ed Kowalczyk. Live last visited Austin in 2017 for ACL Fest, but this July 2018 night was different. The band seemed revitalized and had a positive, fun vibe which was felt throughout the crowd.
Live kicked off the evening with “I Alone” and then proceeded to power through hit after hit, including their new song “Love Lounge.” The band rarely paused between songs, letting the energy flow into both the next song and the crowd, which fed off the energy and sang along to what seemed like everything. As their set reached its climax, the band dialed it back with an acoustic version of “Heaven,” and “Turn My Head.” Live concluded their show with their biggest hit, “Lightning Crashes.”
In 1993, “August and Everything After” was released. With songs like “Mr. Jones,” and “Round Here,” Counting Crows mixed lead singer Adam Duritz’s lyrics with music that has been compared to Van Morrison and REM. Twenty-five years later, the band has released seven studio albums and had numerous hits.
The Crows brought a personal touch to this show as Duritz told stories between and during the songs. “Every night we wanted to play music, to rehearse music, to listen to music. We were just hoping someone noticed us, and you did, and you still do,” he said during an extended version of “Round Here.” It was more than just playing music, it was about connecting with their fans.
The show ended with “Holiday in Spain,” which left some in the crowd perplexed as to why the band did not play “Mr. Jones,” the song which launched their musical career. Yet, even though they didn’t play their biggest hit, their performance felt like a live performance of “VH1 Storytellers.”
The Counting Crow performance felt very intimate despite taking place in a sold-out amphitheater. Fans were given insight, not just into each song, but also to Duritz’s life at different stages. Whether it was his early life growing up in a military family having to move to different cities, or the stalemate of life, as he put it. “That’s all we want in life—just to find anything, something, permanent because everything is so temporary… You just want to find a person—something—that isn’t,” he said, referring to past relationships.
As I left at the end of the show, I felt I was missing something by not hearing the one song I’d wanted to hear. A day later, looking back, I realized how unique and powerful their performance was. Even without my favorite song.
Cover: Charlie Gillingham of Counting Crows during “Omaha.” Photo Brian Maass