"Where are you?"
"The 1990's, man. I'm at a Toad the Wet Sprocket and Counting Crows show."
The phone conversation overheard echoed the sentiments of many of the Gen X attendees, who were there to relive the soundtrack of their earlier days at the Bayou Music Center in Houston, Texas on Tuesday night. But if that's all they bargained for, they were in for a surprise.
The Counting Crows don't play for the crowd; they play for the fan. "Mr. Jones", the hit they are best-known for, was noticeably absent from the set list, but if that's what you were focused on, you missed one of the best shows of the year. They peppered new songs off the forthcoming album Somewhere Under Wonderland due out in September of this year, into a set full of hits that spanned back to the album that started it all in 1993, August and Everything After.
Adam Duritz, lead singer and religious leader to his fans, looks and sounds better than ever. In fact, the whole band seems to have a renewed musical energy. Duritz has been quoted lately saying that he feels like over the past year or two, they've been playing the best shows they've ever had, and for a band that's been making music for 20+ years, that's quite the statement.
It rings true.
The hour and a half show went by far too quickly, with highlights like "Long December" and the opening "Round Here" that involves Duritz's live specialty, going off script and turning a song into a poetic journey. The encore consisted of the new single "Palisades Park", "Rain King", and "Holiday in Spain," and ended with Duritz singing The Mamas & Papas' "California Dreamin'" with the crowd as he left the stage.
The Counting Crows prove the key to longevity isn't playing the same tired set for twenty years- it's about playing the music that matters even after all these years.