Saw Counting Crows the other night at the Greek. The two “warm up bands” were Augustana… fantastic band and Michael Franti and Spearhead, who I saw warm up for Matisyahu a few years back and thought they were fine… nothing special.
Well Adam Duritz moves to his own beat, and in a very cool twist, he decided that the standard concert format needed to be mixed up. I guess he was not happy with folks showing up late and missing the warm up acts, so he sent a note to Ticket Master basically saying that the show was going to be a big monster jam, and you would never know who would be on stage and when, so show up early.
Obviously a lot of folks did not get the memo… technically, including me, and if it had not been for Russ, we would never have known. Not great planning or communication there, but we would have been there early anyway as we are good concert goers and really wanted to see Augustana.
All three acts came out and launched into an immediate cover… Van Morrison’s “Caravan” if short term memory serves correct… and right off the bat the energy was heightened. They went from 1-11 in no time flat.
They would all play a Crows song, then all play an Augustana tune, then all play a Spearhead tune… then some folks would leave and some would stay… Then intermission. The second act was mostly the Crows, until they let Augustana come out smack in the middle of their set and do some of their hits…
While I did not get to hear my two favorite Crows songs… “Perfect Blue Buildings” and my all-timer “Einstein on the Beach” it was a great show. I liked seeing Augustana live, their harmonies are fantastic… but I was a bit troubled by Dan Layus’ (the lead singer’s) Joe Cocker like gestures. He never sat still and seemed… well… squirmy…
Michael Franti and Spearhead, on the other hand, were… and I hate this cliche, but they were… a revelation! Fun… huge energy… great message songs that never became preachy, but were always uplifting. They are so much better live then on album, an ultimate party band, which is saying a lot, because I really dig their stuff… I became a big fan that night and just like everything about them, especially Michael Franti.
Here is my latest playlist… Enjoy…
Buddy Miller – His newest album Universal United House of Prayer is contemporary gospel with his usual rocking country twinge and he fondly reminds me a lot of John Hiatt. I love his sound and soulfulness. The other is, Best of the Hightone Years, which is a greatest hits and features a lot of songs with wife Julie Miller. So glad I got hooked into him!
Michael Franti and Spearhead – Seeing them live won me over… Check out Yell Fire! (Studio and live versions)… “Bonjour Bonjour” will have you instantly out of your seat… and the latest All Rebel Rockers has great tracks like “Hey World (Remote Control Version)” which may be one of the best live party songs ever! And Songs From the Front Porch may be the perfect album to entertain guests with at a summer dinner party or BBQ! Mellow, deep and beautiful!
Pete Yorn – Back & Fourth. I have been a fan for a long while, but this 4th album may be the one where it all clicks! It is so rich, so textured and just soooooo goooooood! Dang! I can listen to this non-stop.
World Party – Goodbye Jumbo. Nice! This pop gem comes from Karl Wallinger, formerly of the Waterboys. Long considered to be one of the best pop albums ever, I had forgotten that I had obviously heard some tracks… But I had never heard the whole album. So worth a listen… and then another… and then another!
Open your ears and open your hearts and minds and souls.