and David Bryson of the Counting Crows shakes it up.
The Crows still
Count in Williamsburg
The chief Counting Crow,
Adam Duritz, was decked out in a T-shirt, jeans and his signature Sideshow Bob hairdo. Loose and relaxed, the singer totally
fit into the industrial Brooklyn neighborhood for the inaugural Lacoste Live concert series in Williamsburg Park.
Yet despite the easy cool he projected and that allowed him to perfectly blend into New York's gritty enclave for the hip,
rich and young, the singer couldn't have been wound tighter.
Born in California, Duritz now lives here in the city
and this show was for the hometown crowd. He appeared slightly jittery at first during this two hour performance, but within the first couple of songs he found his groove and relaxed into
his familiar guileless troubadour style.
Duritz's best songs are the ones he sings from the point of view of a regular
guy, trying to do the right thing while solving his own problems. In those he delivers incredible earnestness. What makes
Duritz one of the great singer/songwriters is his ability to make you believe everything he sings as he lays down the bare
emotions woven into the lyrics he's written.
The reason this show was different, and a little risky, was that many
of the tunes in the set weren't the tried and true Crows classics, but instead deep vault numbers mixed with songs gleaned
from the band's latest CD "Underwater Sunshine" an eclectic covers record.
There's no question that the crowd
at this performance would have been wild for "Rain King," "Goodnight Elizabeth," or "Round Here"
all missing from this show. You could feel how hungry the audience was for a Counting Crows' hit by the zealous welcome the
song "Mr. Jones" received. But this gig wasn't about greatest hits, but rather about musical paths less travelled.
The band actually seemed to rediscover itself in the lesser known tunes and those songs penned by other songwriters.
among the covers was "Hospital," written by Coby Brown, and "Like Teenage Gravity" by Kasey Anderson (who
was at this show serving as the opening act). "Like Teenage Gravity" was a monument of moody guitar work that perfectly
floated Duritz's pleading voice as he offered lines about falling in love. It's Duritz at his best, a grown man who still
falls like a teenager for each girl who comes into and eventually out of his life.
There was also a terrific cover
of Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" that was playfully performed late in the show as a sing-a-long with the
Although Duritz sweated a river at this open air show on one of the hottest nights of the summer, the humid air
at the riverside venue seemed to oil his pipes. At past shows his voice often wore into a rasp toward the close of the set,
yet at this concert he was in command of his loopy, stuttering wail from bow to curtain.
He was excellent on his heartfelt
"Washington Square," an totally nailed "Miami" one of the pinnacles of the show where he seemed to bring
himself to an emotional brink as he sang. In all, the songs were well-chosen and well-played, but what made this show so memorable
was how Duritz kept the set taut with honesty and passion. There was never a moment anyone doubted his veracity or his need
to rock out.
Roger Waters still in the Pink with
a triumphant pair of concerts at Yankee Stadium.
it over the Wall at Stadium
is better especially when it comes to Roger Waters' new edition of "The Wall" that was pumped up for a pair of Yankee
Stadium concerts this weekend.
the classic Pink Floyd album was brought to life in a track-for-track Madison Square Garden production in the fall of 2010 I wrote it was the very best arena concert I'd ever experienced. In this oversized stadium incarnation
the spectacle rivaled U2's 360 tour and the sound quality on the Bronx baseball field was as good as what you'd expect in
Carnegie Hall. In a word, the show was magnificent.
edition of the Orwellian rock opera that was originally written by Waters in 1979 seems to have gained more relevance with
each step we take toward the future. In this grand production, retooled for concert excess, the music was precise reflecting
the original charts and it was visually intense featuring eye-popping 3-D projections. But what lent the show power and made it emotionally unsettling was the repeated references to how governments control the populous by dividing people into "us" and "them," and
then making "us" complacent with treats -- you know, getting us comfortably numb.
In one of the headiest symphonies in the canon of thinking man's rock all those
notions gel in the seventh song titled "Mother." In that heartfelt ballad performed in a simple acoustic guitar
arrangement Waters sings the pivotal question of the night: "Mother can I trust the government?"
Projected on the wall that spanned the stadium's outfield and towered
three stories high was the answer: "No Fucking Way."
song "Mother" was also one of the most artfully produced pieces in the two-hour show with the 68-year-old flesh
and blood Pink Floyd mastermind singing across time in a video duet with himself when he was 35. It was a wonderful reminder
of not only quickly time passes, but how slow change comes.
the fans who grew up with Pink Floyd and know the music inside and out, the multimedia elements like that supercharged the
concert. Other neat special effects included a house sized floating pig that swooped over the audience and the rafter-high
ruler-wielding teacher marionette that danced and threatened a children choir that backed Waters during "Another Brick
In The Wall, Part 2."
The music and staging
often played with your emotions. For instance it was nearly impossible not to get a little chocked up during the song "Bring The
Boy's Back Home" as a video of a young schoolgirl reuniting with her uniformed soldier dad played on the wall.
And a few tunes later how that warm and cuddly feeling was smashed on
the rocks in the song "Run Like Hell" where the threat of totalitarian government is unveiled with machine-gun toting
Waters costumed in a black leather trench coat in front of waving flags and banners featuring a crossed-hammer insignia. All
together it recalled WWII's Nazi images of swastikas and the screaming insanity or Adolf Hitler whipping his followers into
a frenzy of hate.
Hard-core fans would take note
of how the 12-piece band stayed true to the original charts. No notes were added or changed in the making of this concert.
Even the searing guitar solo by David Gilmour on the original recording of "Comfortably Numb" was re-created with
note-for-note precision by guitarist Snowy White.
The concert's structure was also faithful to the original vinyl pressing of the double album: sides One and
Two were played before intermission followed by sides Three and Four. After the final song, "Outside the Wall,"
Waters and his band just bowed and left the stage.
As a straight-up concert, Waters was the star of this gig, but if you looked at this show as modern theater
the star was 20,000 square foot wall constructed with more than 1000 Styrofoam blocks by stagehands. The crew completed it
one brick in the wall at a time. It dissected the stadium, illustrating the wall's ability to isolate by actually cutting
the band off from the audience's view.
As on the
album, the song highlights remain the same with "Another Brick in the Wall," "Mother," "Hey You"
and "Comfortably Numb," but in the Stadium, "The Wall" became bigger than the individual songs and transformed
the piece into a cautionary tale about a future we hope isn't already here.
Wynton's jazz gets Simonized