Last night I went to a Goo Goo Dolls/Counting Crows concert. The opening act was a guy named Eliot Morris.
Eliot Morris was amazing. I had never heard of him, but he held the crowd rapt throughout his set. People were appluading and hooting after every song. He had a version of CCR’s “Fortunate Son” that was truly haunting. His own material was intelligent roots rock. Th’ey were solid and tight.
Goo Goo Dolls were ok. They played all of their hits, but the lead singer, Johnny somebody, was rude and very “macho”. He told a guy in the front row who was singing along to stop looking at him like he wanted to wake up with him in the morning, cause it wasn’t happening. Someone else in the front row handed him a cell phone and he spoke to the caller. He said, “Don’t be so cheap next time and buy your own ticket.” Then he hung up on them.
One thing that annoys me when bands play live is when they cop out on the vocal performance. In “Iris” the vocal are really powerful and soaring*…“and I don’t want the world to see me…cause I don’t think that they’d understand…”* he sang them an octave lower. That is just a pet peeve of mine.
I came away with a newfound respect for Counting Crows, and their singer Adam Duritz (is he white or black? not that it matters). Musically they were incredible. Not flashy or showy, but solid and heartfelt. Adams vocals are incedible. His elastic phrasing is always spot on even when you don’t know how he is going to pull it off. He reminds me of Willie Nelson in that he can come in so far behind the beat that you wonder how he is going to pull it off, but he does, with style.
But Duritz struck me as incredibly real. Human. They are from L.A. but he has about 50 extra pounds. I know that is not a good thing, but it was refreshing that he is not your typical image slave, like most front-men in bands. He seemed like he was living each song as he sang it, completely inhabiting the moment.
He spoke passionately about local charities he wanted us to support after the band left town. He encouraged us to take care of our people locally who need help. He decried the ruination of small town America, and I believed he meant it.
He said he was feeling out of sorts that day. He said his grandmother recently passed away. She lived in Virginia Beach, and she even though she was old, she would come to sound check and sometimes would stay for the show. This was his first time playing in Virginia Beach when she didn’t come. He then played her favorite song. He apologized for being a downer, but that was where his head was, and he let us live it with him. I felt he was incredibly honest and open, and he channelled his pain and passion into his music very nicely.
At the end they played “Hangin’ Around”. He brought Eliot Morris and his band out to join them. There is a great backing vocal where a bunch of people can gather around one mic and sing. He gave his mic to Eliot and let him sing the main vocals and Adam joined the rest around the backup mic. It was a very generous gesture. He didn’t have to bring them out much less let him sing lead on one of CC’s biggest songs. At the end he didn’t pump up his own album, but encouraged people to check out Eliot’s.
I was a passing Counting Crows fan before, but now I am going to check out some more of their more obscure stuff.