Counting Crows played to a near full house Friday night at Veterans Memorial. The band is currently on tour in support of its latest album "This Desert Life."
People go to see bands play live for different reasons.Some people go to see a reproduction of the music on their favorite CD. Some may go just for status reasons, to say “Oh yeah, I was there.” And others go to see something different, something they can’t get from listening to a recording.Case in point: the Counting Crows show Friday night at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.Rumors and reviewers agreed that a Counting Crows live performance was different than what could be found on their CDs. However, the reviews weren’t necessarily good. There were usually complaints about how lead singer Adam Duritz would change words, perform songs slower or faster than the albums or at times just speak the words instead of singing them. This could understandably be frustrating to those fans who were just there to sing along. But to those who think that’s what’s good about a live performance, it could be fantastic.The first act onstage on the three-band bill was Joe 90. A perfectly mediocre pop band that was formerly known as God’s Child, their music was a fusion of modern and classic rock elements. Their performance was uninspired. They weren’t good, they weren’t bad, they were just there.Next up was the power-pop band the Gigolo Aunts. The Boston-based quartet is touring in support of their album “Minor Chords and Major Themes” which, along with Joe 90’s “Dream This,” is on Duritz’ record label, E Pluribus Unum. The band’s act was a considerable improvement over Joe 90’s, featuring stronger songwriting and better melodies. But still the majority of the set was fairly dull. It wasn’t until their last two songs, “The Big Lie” and “Super Ultra Wicked Mega Love,” that the band became enjoyable to watch. And once Counting Crows took the stage, their performance was all but forgotten.Duritz is a true performer. From the second he took the stage, he commanded the crowd’s attention and captured every bit of it. One sappy, love song after another was performed with so much emotion that it was hard not to feel sorry for him.But the reviews were right. Those going to hear them play their music and leave were probably not only disappointed but angry as well. Duritz introduced most songs with anecdotes about their meanings, giving the set a real VH1’s “Storytellers” feel. He also changed words, sang at different tempos and generally changed their hit songs into something, somewhat different. As stated earlier, what’s enjoyable to some, might frustrate others. But the crowd didn’t seem to be upset about it.All things considered, it was a good show. The Counting Crows were energetic and entertaining to watch and certainly made up for the lackluster performances of the openers. Veterans Memorial was a small enough venue to give the show an intimate feel, but was big enough to allow for a larger stage show. And if different was what was wanted, that’s what they gave.