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Concert Review

Counting Crows 1/129/00 S.F Ca.
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Counting Crows at The Warfield in San Francisco

Adam Duritz - Lead vocals, Piano David Bryson - Guitar, Vocals Dan Vickrey - Guitar, Vocals Charles Grilling - Keyboards, Vocals Matt Malley - Bass, Vocals Ben Mize - Drums, Vocals

Adam Duritz{short description of image}Adam Duritz is like a painter who keeps visiting the same subjects. In song after song, the dreadlocked lead singer of Counting Crows makes references to carnivals, circuses, Hollywood, traveling and people referred to by name (Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Potter, etc.). But his favorite subject is loneliness. Time and again he sings about being alone, or the fear of being alone or the things lonely people do to assuage their pain. Maybe that's why so many young people hang on his every word, as if he were a sage offering profound answers to questions about the search for love in a lonely world. There are seven members of Counting Crows, including Duritz, but he's the only one who matters. The rest just support his self-consciously arty and poetic meandering. Duritz is the star, the tortured soul, the sensitive artist who commands attention. The stage is obviously his domain, but you get the feeling he is probably just as pretentious offstage. He seems to take himself awfully seriously. While the Counting Crows are very tight and talented, the music just seems a backdrop for Doritos's exercises in self-indulgence. There's no unity among the singer and the band. The musicians are just a bunch of guys backing him. He could get new musicians tomorrow and his fans would probably not care or even notice. The Crows gave equal time to new material and old favorites.

.......Starting off with an accordion-spend "Mr. Jones" and a somber, near-acoustic version of the rocking "Angels of the Silences," the crowd elevated to the ceiling, where they remained for the band's 90 minutes. They followed with a beautiful, spare version of "I Wish I Was A Girl." An equally restrained version of "Omaha," with Immergluck on mandolin and Charlie Gillingham taking center stage on accordion, was breathtaking. "Have You Seen Me Lately," dismantled as a folk-rocking anthem and reassembled as a pensive ode, was poignant and gritty. Duritz sat at the grand piano for "Amy Hit the Atmosphere" - a classic Duritz epic about lost souls in his adopted L.A. homeland. And "Round Here" was wildly cheered, even if Duritz's free-form adaptation went on a bit too long. The highlight of the set was the gorgeous, easy-rocking "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby," which is so memorable you wonder why they don't trim it a bit and make it a single. It's every bit as catchy as "Mr. Jones." Another golden moment: when the two opening bands joined the Crows on stage for a jamming version of "Hanginaround," their latest single. Their laughter was infectious.

.......The shows last night are makeup dates for ones canceled last December 13 when Duritz and other members of the band caught the flu. But the two concerts here serve as dress rehearsals for a extended tour of Europe, which starts next week in Ireland. One indication that Duritz is as pretentious offstage as on was the opening act, Joe 90, a bland, superficial, painfully arty band that is a protege of Duritz's. He produced the group's unlistenable debut album, "Dream This," and he brought the band onstage to perform with Counting Crows. Several members of the Crows made guest appearances in Joe 90's opening set, which kept the audience (the few remaining who didn't run for the lobby) periodically attentive. Those with the patience to sit through Joe 90 seemed thoroughly bored.

By Randy Cohen

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