Oh Christ an I aggravated.  I spent an hour writing a great post about how amazing The Counting Crows‘ tour with Spearhead and Augustana, and then wordpress crashes.  Arggh!  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time writing a second time with the same passion.  But these guys deserve it, so here it goes again.

On the show’s site, Adam Duritz warns to get there on time because as soon as the curtain rises, they’ll all be on stage jamming together.  What it didn’t say was that before the show even started, Adam would play a couple impromptu acoustic songs, including his powerful rendition of The Ghost in You.


When he was done, it was about 7:15pm and Adam left saying, “You all better get your asses in your seats.  I wanna see asses in the seats when we come back.”


As promised, at 7:30 sharp the curtain went up and a joyous, raucous and loud arrangement of Van Morrison’s “Caravan” started out the evening, with everyone on stage at once. Spearhead took a solo song next, and then Counting Crows came back to do some of their hits.  Throughout the night, The Adam bounced around playing hype man and harmony to Augustana and Spearhead songs, and vice-versa.  All played together, and the love and fun they felt was evident and contagious.  The show brought male strippers, a prank involving Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Adam’s wardrobe changes to signal an upcoming cover, a toilet bowl and, literally, the kitchen sink (used in a Stomp!-like percussion solo).

It’s easy to forget how talented the Counting Crows are as a band when you hear their studio work, because Duritz’s vocals are so commanding, but each of them are amazingly talented musicians.  The key to being in a band is being able to be part of a whole, which all of them so phenomenally well.  Each got a few solo moments to shine, and pretty much blew every other musician off the stage.  Except for Spearhead’s lead guitarist, who is a remarkably versatile and skilled solo player.  Yet the night was not about competition, it was about teamwork and sharing a love of music.  I know it sounds kinda hippy-dippy, but these are three San Francisco groups who clearly share a bond (they don’t share the same label, after all).  In particular, Franti and Duritz have known each other for decades–both bands came up at the same time in San Francisco, back when I lived there, and both have released many great records.  It was great watching them all trade verses on each others’ songs, and on covers . . . I’ve never seen anything like it.  Sure, some bands do this on tour for a song or two, but to share the stage for the entire night?  Unheard of.  Duritz deserves an award–he’s not usually thought of for his humility–and has revealed himself to be an innovator on the level of Perry Farrell (who created Lollapalooza).  More bands need to do this.


But a special paragraph belongs to Spearhead.  As fantastic as it was to see the Crows, Franti’s band has truly come into their own, with a top 40 single that led Universal Republic to pick up their distribution from indie-label ANTI.  Franti is a charismatic emcee and a great frontman.  At one point, to sing their new big single, he brought all the children onstage (pictured above).  And throughout, his love and gratitude shone through.  He is the genuine article.

A touching element of the show is their commitment to local causes.  At every leg of the tour, they’d pick out a few local charities and bring them to the arena.  Then, the artists would periodically come out and tell the audience about them.  Not enough bands do this nowadays–it’s a great way to remind us all what music is really about.  The show I was at featured, among others, House of Ruth, which has helped a few people I know deal with spousal abuse.  They also talked about the Counting Crows project, GreyBird Foundation, and Franti discussed C.A.R.E., the global anti-poverty organization.  And they did it with sincerity, without being preachy.

I don’t have a copy of the show I saw, but I found this one from the same tour (August 28, 2009).  The set lists are pretty much the same, and you can tell from the recordings how wonderful the show was.  P.S.-Thank you Sneak Attack Media.  You guys got us great seats.  You’re the best.

The tour is over, but if he brings this around again, don’t miss it.

set 1

Hello Bonjour
Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
Sweet Virginia
Sweet And Low
Meet You There
You’ve Gonna Walk (Don’t Look Back)
Everybody Ona Move
All I Want Is You
The Sound of Sunshine
I Got Love For You
Delta Lady

set 2

When I Dream Of Michelangelo
Children In Bloom
A Little Bit Of Riddim
Yell Fire!
Say Hey (I Love You)
Just Like a Woman
Why Should You Come When I Call
Hanging Around
Hey World (Remote Control)
Raise a Ruckus Tonight > Rain King
With A Little Help From My Friends > Rain King
Message from Adam
This Land Is Your Land > Band Intros


Adam Duritz – Vocals and Piano
Charles Gillingham- Piano, Organ, Mellotron, Harmonica, and Accordian
Dan Vickrey – Guitar and Banjo
David Immergluck – Guitar, Mandolin, Pedal Steel, and Bass
David Bryson – Guitar
Jim Bogios – Drums

Micheal Franti – voice
Carl Young – bass
Dave Shul – guitar
Manas Itiene – drums
Raliegh Neal – keys
Cherine Anderson – special guest

Dan Layus – vocals, guitar, piano
Jared Palomar – bass, vocals
Justin South – drums
Chris Sachtleben – lead guitar, mandolin, lap steel
John Vincent Fredericks – piano, hammond b3, vocals

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