Consider the lineup: Sara Bareilles, Counting Crows, and Maroon 5. Naturally, my expectations were high, and these three acts certainly delivered. The show at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ was energetic and exciting.
Sara Bareilles started her set promptly at seven from the piano bench with “Bottle It Up,” followed by “Morningside,” a song for anyone with an “ex-boyfriend or girlfriend you can’t stand.” She introduced the band and wished her drummer a happy birthday during “Many the Miles” and then played her radio hit “Love Song,” which of course the crowd crooned along with, earning the praise, “you sound like angels out there!” from Sara.
Before playing “Gravity” as her last song in a surprisingly short set of about half an hour, she played The Beatles’ “Oh, Darlin’” with impressive accuracy to the original, and then thanked the crowd for arriving in time for her, commenting that it’s an honor to play as the opener for the Counting Crows and Maroon 5, but that it’s the crowd showing up early enough that makes that opportunity happen.
Before the Counting Crows even came out to play, accordion player Charles Gillingham came onto the stage to tell the audience about the Greybird Foundation, a charity the Counting Crows started to raise money for local causes; money raised in Philadelphia, for example, goes to Philadelphia causes such as Women Against Abuse, Philly Fight, and voter registration. (Information about the Greybird Foundation can be found here: http://greybirdfoundation.org/.)
Shortly after the Greybird plug, the band came out onto the stage to red lighting and a screaming crowd, Adam Duritz not so subtly sporting a Greybird Foundation t-shirt. They began with “Omaha” from their first album August and Everything After, then went into “Daylight Fading” off of their 1996 album Recovering the Satellites, then “Rain King,” “Colorblind,” and “If I could Give All My Love –Or—Richard Manuel Is Dead” from August and Everything After, This Desert Life, and Hard Candy respectively.
Despite the excitement and singing along in the crowd up to this point, most people remained seated until the beginning of “Mr. Jones,” when nearly every person in the audience (including myself) stood and tried to sing along as Adam Duritz changed or omitted words and occasional lines throughout the song. He did the same through several others of their hits during the rest of the show; no one seemed to care, and doing so eventually (thankfully) kept people from singing along too loudly.
Winning as the most touchy-feely moment of the night was Adam Duritz’s speech about touring with Maroon 5 and about musicians in general. He stated that despite radio stations and Internet message boards telling people “who is good and who sucks,” musicians “just want to see each other make it,” and he and his band mates were happy for the success of their friends in Maroon 5. Then, finally, they played some new stuff from Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, including “Washington Square” and “Sundays” before playing “Murder of One” from August, as well as the title track from Hard Candy.
Although fewer people knew the words to their new songs, the crowd remained attentive and excited; the songs have the same Counting Crows timelessness, energy, and wrenching honesty that their fans are drawn to and appreciate. Duritz ended the set by slamming the microphone stand into the stage for perhaps the fourth time and saying, “See ya,” before the lights went out. Appropriately, he began their encore with “Hi.” After mentioning having been an insomniac at times in his life, he commented, “It’s still a beautiful night right before the dawn,” and then played “Goodnight LA” while playing the piano himself for the first time during the show. After “Long December,” Adam plugged Greybird one more time saying “America is not just a big giant country; it’s individuals with a right and a responsibility to help each other.” They ended with “Walkaways,” leaving the crowed sufficiently pumped for Maroon 5.
Maroon 5 played three songs before bringing up the perhaps age old questions of whether the Susquehanna Bank Center counts as Philly or Jersey and, regardless of which one, which place are most of the audience members from. After starting with “Never See Your Face Again” and “Makes Me Wonder” off of It Won’t Be Soon Before Long and “Tangled” off of Songs About Jane, Adam Levine seemed to use his own judgment as something of an applause-o-meter, akin to the one Max used on episodes of “Saved by the Bell” only without the silly hat, and ultimately deemed the Susquehanna Bank Center “PhilaJersey” and referred to it as such from then on.
Guitarist James Valentine played an intense guitar solo at the end of “The Sun,” which got the crowd standing for “Won’t Go Home Without You,” during which Levine requested we all get out our cell phones and hold them up before shouting at us, “sing it, crowd!” Having drawn my attention to lights with the cell phone bit, I noticed the green lights during “Kiwi” were the first of several potentially clever lighting tricks, but Levine’s consistently sexual interaction with the microphone stand, especially during “Kiwi” and then “Shiver,” proved too distracting for many of us, at least all of the people around me anyhow, to take notice of the lights for long. Until, of course, the lyrics to “Wake Up Call” appeared behind the band, reminding us all that it truly is a song about wanting to murder people.
As Levine continued moving around the stage in his white pants, he led us in clapping for “Little of Your Time,” before pausing to introduce the band members during the introduction of “Sunday Morning,” their last song of the set. Their first encore consisted mostly of Levine molesting the microphone stand while covering Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game” and then segueing into “She Will Be Loved” before disappearing from stage again. After some cheering and chanting from the crowd, they predictably yet deliciously reappeared to tell the crowd how “tasty” we were and finish the night with “Harder to Breathe” and “Sweetest Goodbye” before Levine threw his guitar into the air, let it hit the stage, and gave it to a girl in the front row.
Crowd appreciation, charities and foundations, sexuality and generally failed relationships, and smashing stuff were perhaps the themes of the evening, but the focus was still, incredibly, on the talent of the musicians.
Written/Photos by: Rebecca Brown
Filed under: concerts | Tagged: adam duritz, adam levine, Add new tag, charles gillinham, chris isaac, counting crows, cover whore, good causes, greybird foundation, james valentine, maroon 5, philajersey, philly fight, sara bareilles, the beatles, woen against abuse |