When the concert opened, both Counting Crows and Augustana were mixed together on the stage setting the evening’s energetic tone with the Crows’ powerful, solo-laden ride through Van Morrison’s classic “Caravan.” Throughout a pair of hard-boiled and magical sets the two bands revolved around each other, trading songs with shifting personal and sometimes combining forces where more than 15 people were playing together at the same time on the SPAC stage.
So this was obviously not a typical opener-then-headliner kind of rock show; rather, it was the realization of a concept that Counting Crows leader and exquisite singer Adam Duritz created and called the “Traveling Circus and Medicine Show.”
For over two hours – with an intermission in between – Duritz and Augustana’s frontman and multi-instrumentalist Dan Layus traded time in the spotlight and kept the music jumping and moving at a steady pace.
Duritz and company performed the Crows-penned “Mrs. Potter’s Wedding,” “I’m Not Sleeping” and “Omaha” in the first half, followed by “Colorblind” and the band’s signature hit “Mr. Jones” in the second.
Augustana’s Layus, meanwhile, sang a passionate, piano-driven version of his “Boston” and a spirited new song by his band, “Steal Your Heart Away.”
Both outfits combined voices and instruments on Leon Russell’s lyrical “Delta Lady” and Bob Dylan’s heartfelt “Just Like A Woman.”
However, it was during the closer, “Hanginaround,” that the musical sparks really flew between the two singers and their co-conspirators, as they all churned forth with power, intensity and great collaborative interplay.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Rebecca Ludwig’s review in The Saratogian
Michael Eck’s review in The Times Union
An excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review in The Daily Gazette: “It quickly became clear that despite the novel show approach, the Crows were clearly the band to watch. Their songs in the first set, ranging from the bouncing ‘I’m Not Sleeping,’ one of a handful of songs the band did on its own, to sleeper ‘Omaha’ off the band’s 1993 debut ‘August and Everything After,’ were all met with knowing applause. Although maintaining a rough-hewn, rootsy edge, these guys are consummate professionals, and it showed – ‘Miami’ in particular featured a wonderfully ripping guitar solo from guitarist Dan Vickrey.