Talk about an evening of flashbacks. This was an evening of multiple flashbacks of great music by two separate headlining bands who had their early success in the 1990s. Seldom will you get this kind of value in a concert. The music business is one that will chew you up and spit you out in five years. The fact that both of these bands are still pulling in huge crowds is a testament to their staying power and talent. The Grand Sierra Resort hosted a great evening and nearly filled the house. The shows rarely starts at showtime, but according to my chronometer this one started two minutes early. It was to be a long night that kicked off with Counting Crows.
Counting Crows started off strong with “Hard Candy” from their 2002 album of the same name, and moved quickly through “Omaha and Dislocation.” Vocalist Adam Duritz is charismatic and talented as the lead singer and frontman. He is the only one of the band who stands out visually as a likely musician. Everybody else would blend in on the street.
Their second song of the evening, “Omaha,” featured some great accordion by Charlie Gillingham. Yes, rock and roll accordion. Not a polka. A notable highlight that pleased the crowd was an acoustic presentation of “Friend of The Devil” by The Grateful Dead. Later on, they rolled out a piano for Duritz to play while he sang “A Long December,” which went well. It was an absolutely fantastic performance. The song is about him spending most of December 1995 visiting his girlfriend in the hospital after she was run over by a car, while simultaneously working on their second album in the evenings.
The set ended with “Round Here,” another huge hit for Counting Crows, and their encore was “Palisades Park” and “Rain King.” They put on a great show. I couldn’t remember all they had done and was delighted with how many songs I remembered and enjoyed.
Adam Duritz – vocals, piano
Charlie Gillingham – keyboards, accordion
Dan Vickrey – lead guitar
David Immergluck – guitar, banjo, mandolin
Jim Bogios – drums
Millard Powers – bass
David Bryson – guitar (not present)
Mrs. Potters Lullaby
When I Dream Of Michelangelo
Friend of The Devil
Pale Blue Eyes
A Long December
The Brief History of Everything tour is the first time Matchbox Twenty has played together in four years. It is also its 20th anniversary as a band. It seems only appropriate that Matchbox Twenty tours on their 20th anniversary. It almost wasn’t possible, as guitarist Kyle Cook had decided not to play with the band anymore a little more than a year ago, but things change. Lucky for us.
Twenty years of playing together brings something to the stage that is palpable. A tightness and confidence in performance that you can’t get without all that experience. It was apparent from the first notes that this was going to be special.
The sound was perfect. They had great stage presence. Everybody was all over the stage, using 100 percent of it. The energy was tangible. During “English Town,” guitarist Paul Douchette stepped up to a pair of large tom toms and practically killed them. It was amazing to watch. He was their drummer originally and moved to guitar several years ago. He was playing with so much power and force that I’m surprised he didn’t blow right through the heads. Rob Thomas appeared to be as tight as you can get. You could see his passion in his neck, his arms, and his face. All his muscles were taught. He presented each song with power and passion all night long.
They had a great lighting setup to go with the awesome sound system. Ten huge panels of lights hanging from rigging were moving in a precarious ballet above the musicians’ heads all night. Moving from side to side, up and down, rotating — you get the picture. The musicians were not only tight with each other, but with the lighting. When a song ended on a staccato accent, the lights immediately went black in unison.
“Real World” from “Yourself or Someone Like You” was their opener. It got just about everybody up on their feet right away. There were a lot of highlights during the show. I can’t even name them all without just running down the whole set list, but “Bent, How Far We’ve Come,” “So Sad and Lonely,” and “Push,” to name a few, really shined. There encore started with “3 A.M.,” which really got everybody up. They followed this with “Long Day” and “Bright Lights.”
They are obviously older than they were in the ’90s, and they look a bit different. I forgot that Rob Thomas was Mr. MB20 (embarrassing as it is to admit), and I didn’t even recognize him for a few minutes. He’s no longer sporting the Nero hairstyle. They are all still fit and healthy looking, so age is treating them well. There was an uneven balance of single women in the audience. Go figure.
The enthusiasm didn’t wane at any point during the show. Staying power, for sure. Matchbox Twenty has what it takes to keep this show on the road for another 20 years.
Rob Thomas – lead vocals, guitar, keyboard
Kyle Cook – lead Guitar, vocals
Briane Yale – bass
Paul Douchette – guitar, drums, vocals
Stacey Jones – drums
Matt Beck – keyboards, guitar
Girl Like That
She’s So Mean
I’ll Believe You When
If You’re Gone
Hand Me Down
How Far We’ve Come
All Your Reasons
So Sad So Lonely
Back 2 Good
ABOUT Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe is a musician, photographer and writer from Reno. He is the editor of the music website Front Row Photo. He plays in a seven-piece band, Apothic.
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