Counting Crows at Paramount Theatre, 4/19/12
COUNTING CROWS @ PARAMOUNT THEATRE | 04.19.12
Let's start with a piece of information that Counting Crows' Adam Duritz didn't share with the audience until the very end of last night's show at the Paramount: He felt like shit. Seriously. He was sick. So if anyone was wondering why the concert itself was uncharacteristically low-key, why Duritz only sat down to play the piano once (when, on a less stomach-churning night, he'd be there constantly), or why the musical storyteller was uncommonly silent between songs, it was all cleared up by that admission near the end. "I feel like I have a hangover," he said to the still-adoring crowd, "and I haven't even had a drink."
The band opened with "Round Here," because one of the things that all groups that have been around a while know how to do is to please the fans right up front with their classics before heading into relatively uncharted waters with their new stuff that frankly no one gives a crap about yet. Of course, the Crows just released their new album Underwater Sunshine earlier this month, so it just makes sense that they'd focus a little more on pushing the new stuff. So yeah, it's a little early to get a sing-a-long going for even promising tracks like "Mercy" and "Hospital," but fans appreciate the exposure to the new material...so long as they get their old faves, dammit.
And get them they did, for the most part. Duritz did manage to belly up -- despite his belly-problems -- to the piano once, for fan-favorite classic '90s torch-song "Long December." His voice, scratchy and soulful as always, matched the sentiment of that heartbreaking song perfectly. It's the poetry of the moment that brought the cold winter skies of the end of the year right here into a sunny Denver Spring.
But make no mistake, Duritz' no-drink hangover definitely made the whole night feel more subdued. Granted, it's always sort of mellow with the Crows, but even the opening act, Boston' alt-folk-rock band Mean Creek, seemed low-key. The act's sound wanted to be a sort of mix of Ray LaMontagne and Credence Clearwater Revival, and it was. The band was a good match for Counting Crows' fans, just like Augustana was for years when that outfit toured with the Crows. In the end, Mean Creek's primary sin was that it wasn't Counting Crows -- ah, the curse of the opening act.
Counting Crows fans will remember little of the down-side, though, and only recall the highlights from the night. Aside from singlular-moment at the piano for "Long December," Duritz and the band had the crowd on its feet, swaying and singing to great tunes like "Rain King" and "Colorblind." And they closed out their set with just one encore, finishing on their traditional high-note -- a performance of their melancholy song about love and drinking, "Holiday in Spain." And with that, Counting Crows was done for the night.
Adam Duritz did make one promise to the crowd after admitting his feeling-like-crap-ness: That they're coming back to Denver this summer, playing an (as-yet-unannounced) date at Red Rocks. Which, honestly, is perfect: Red Rocks is the perfect setting for the Crows' beautiful, dark-and-twisty love songs...and as a bonus, it'll give the fans time to memorize their new songs, so we can give them the respect and love we have for August and Everything After. So maybe consider the Paramount show a sort of...sick-bed preview of what's to come?
Feel better, Adam.
Personal Bias: I firmly believe Adam Duritz is one of the most dreamy fellas in the universe
Random Detail: Duritz is wicked skinny now, but that doesn't take away from his kick ass vocals.
By The Way: The drinks at the Paramount need to be stronger and cheaper.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music