Counting Crows Live! General Nonsense 11 JUN 2008

Counting CrowsMan, what a concert. Now neither Chantelle nor I are big Counting Crows fans, but about a month ago Chantelle got wind that they would be playing and decided it might be a great way to spend an evening. As it turned out, yesterday was also Chantelle’s last day of her three week long holiday, making it the perfect way to end off with a bang.

Presented by Big Concert Productions and KFM, you knew at least that the production should run pretty smoothly as opposed to the disastrous Celine Dion concerts that happened a little while ago in Stellenbosch. That said, somehow something did go a little wrong, because the tickets for last night’s show all reflected the concert starting at 20:00 while the radio was touting it as beginning at 19:30!

Just as well we made a conscious effort to arrive well, well before the time, because believe it or not, the bloody thing did start at 19:30 already, catching a lot of people unawares and leaving those of us already in the arena wondering if this truly WAS a sold out concert, as the place was as empty as Loftus during a bad Bulls season! However, I can assure you by that the end of the 2 hour (or so) long show, the arena was as jam-packed as what it ever will be!

The venue for the concert was Grand West Casino’s newly completed Grand Arena which has just come fresh off hosting the phenomenally successful Chris Rock tour (which in hindsight I am a little spiteful that I missed out on because according to everyone that actually saw it, it was flipping fantastic!). This was the first time that Chantelle and I would be visiting the arena, and I must say that I am pleasantly surprised at the space that they’ve come up with. It makes for a solid entertainment venue, offering ample space for both sitting and standing and the acoustics of the hall isn’t too horrible either. Couple everything up with a fantastic lights, big screen and equipment setup, and you’ve got a world class indoor venue on your hands.

Opening act for the show was the popular local band, Flat Stanley, a group which although I wasn’t that familiar with their music, did at least have a name that I actually recognised off the radio. Admittedly, they weren’t all that bad and the lead singer, Andy Mac has a good voice, but this mahusive (combination of massive and humongous in case you’re lost) fellow can’t perform more than a couple of songs before seemingly in desperate need of a rest break, meaning that he did a lot of incessant and unnecessary talking in between, messing up whatever little flow they were trying to build. Honestly, the crowd didn’t really warm up to Flat Stanley all that much, but that might also partly have been because at that stage the arena was still busy filling up – obviously because of the starting time mix-up that I mentioned earlier in this post.

(I must just mention that they did start off with a very cool gimmick though. An indoor drumline started things off, leading us into an energetic Flat Stanley break in when they suddenly appeared on stage. Very cool stuff.)

In any event, the crowd wasn’t there to see any old local band, and when Adam Duritz and the rest of the Counting Crows band members broke onto stage, the arena went wild. The Counting Crows has been around since the early 90’s and although some of the members are starting to look their age (Adam, a very receding hairline just doesn’t work with dreadlocks), it certainly hasn’t affected their music. They put in what can only be described as an electrifying, adrenaline pumping performance, throwing 110% effort behind everything that they put out on stage.

Adam Duritz himself was spectacular, literally losing himself in his music as he poured his heart and soul out into each and every song he belted out. The band literally pushed out hit after hit, and despite the fact that I am not all that familiar with their music, I was amazed at just how much of their music I do in fact recognise! All the hits were of course there, and when they finally got to the one everyone had anxiously been waiting for, Mr. Jones, the arena simply went wild.

It is not often that you see a band put so much energy, effort and heart into a performance, and I can now understand just why the Counting Crows are so well known for their live performances. Funnily enough, we had come to the concert with a mixed view of what to expect, after Ryan let me know of a rather disparaging article that had appeared in the Sunday Times newspaper following the Johannesburg leg of the tour. Basically, the rather ignorant writer had accused Adam from totally screwing up the performance by being either high or completely drunk on stage at the time. As it was, I can see how this uninformed writer could have got this that horribly wrong, because at a glance, Adam with his unique, slightly slurred voice and onstage antics could be mistaken for being not quite with us, but on closer inspection I can’t believe how on earth she missed out that this is a man that literally pours his entire being into each and every song that he performs, quite literally just losing himself in the music.

As it is, Adam himself addressed this issue halfway through the concert, and I am glad that he went to the trouble of doing so, because it is important for people to know that just because something appears in print, it is seldom exactly the case in real life. In any event, I’m going to be surprised if anyone has something negative to say about last night’s concert anyway – it was just that awesome!

About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.