25 Years and Counting...

Counting Crows latest tour has seen them play 40 sold out dates across the U.S alone. To conclude, a headline slot at London’s O2 Arena to close BluesFest 2018.

Four years since Adam Duritz last brought his incredible talents to UK soil, it’s long overdue and well worth the wait.

Tonight, London is treated to a Greatest Hits setlist spanning from 1993’s multi award winning debut LP ‘August and Everything After’ through to 2014’s critically acclaimed ‘Somewhere Under Wonderland’. It’s hit after hit. After hit.

Country singer Alison Krauss serenades the 20,000 strong crowd with her soulful voice, just prior to Counting Crows stealing the show. Unquestionably, an effortlessly pure voice is on show. Instruments down, several A cappella renditions are sung sublimely accompanied with haunting harmonies.

It’s an enjoyable warmup albeit a long-lived one. A full ninety minute set proves to outstay it’s welcome. A little less Alison and a little more Adam is the general consensus.

As the clock hits 8:50pm, darkness falls within the O2 and those famous dreadlocks seemingly fill the stage. Counting Crows immediately lure us back to the year 2000 as the piano driven sound of ‘Mrs.Potters Lullaby’ kicks off proceedings. Just shy of 8 minutes, it’s still not long enough.

All seats are vacated from the offset as thousands provide backing vocals for Adam Duritz and Co. It’s an expensive seat when you’re standing.

Renowned globally for many reasons, the front mans insightful anecdotes which introduce many tracks have acquired as much admiration over the years as the genius of his lyrics, or the thickness of those dreads.

The instantly recognisable ‘Omaha’ is delivered early on in the set as the distinctive sound of the accordion takes centre stage.

Travelling the U.S three times over in his early years provides the narrative for the song, as London falls silent whilst Duritz embarks on another of his encapsulating stories which lasts somewhat longer than the song itself. In an instant, the lyrics resonate with all in attendance.

Soon after, the piano riff of ‘Colorblind’ begins. The crowd rest their voices as Duritz conveys the song with such powerful emotion. He’s done this before. The soundtrack to the 1999 hit film ‘Cruel Intentions’, it remains one of their biggest hits to date. A real highlight.

An hour or so in and the song that propelled the band to stardom sounds. ‘Round Here’ is reinvented by the band as verses are added and some are repeated as it’s original duration almost doubles. I’m struggling to think of a better choice of song to extend. The O2 agree.

Although often absent from their set nowadays, ‘Mr.Jones’ is played, much to the crowds delight. I fear security would not let the band leave before doing so.

A song themed around he and his friend getting drunk in a bar in New Amsterdam whilst they ‘Stare at the beautiful women’. It’s a running commentary on fame and a sarcastic dig at the prospect that you’ll ‘Never be lonely’ once it’s achieved. A 90’s classic. A timeless classic.

Several times throughout, Duritz rests his legs as one of the stages front speakers serves as his chair. This time, at his piano, he sits to play ‘Goodnight L.A’. Taken from 2002’s ‘Hard Candy’ LP, it’s just one of several tracks illustrating his insomniac tendencies. Mix glorious chord changes with stunning words and throw in one of rock’s very finest voices. It’s a hidden gem.

An hour and a half in and Duritz introduces each band member and wraps up the evening with heartfelt thanks to the crowd. ‘Hanginaround’ completes an astonishing set.

Following a brief exit, the band return to stage as they perform a version of ‘Rain King’ that arguably surpasses the original. A bold statement I know. The ‘lullaby’, ‘Holiday in Spain’ brings down the tempo and the curtain as their work is done.

A near perfect set combined with superb craftsmanship and fascinating storytelling. It’s a delicious recipe.

Is 25 more years too much to ask?