'August & Everything After - Live' [Blu-ray]
(Counting Crows / Blu Ray / NR / 2011 / Eagle Records)
Overview: Released way back in late 1993, Counting Crows' debut album August And Everything After went on to sell over seven million copies in America. On September 18, 2007, the band performed the complete album live at Town Hall in New York City.
DVD Verdict: The line-up for this stellar evening captured on 'August And Everything After: Live At Town Hall' was: Jim Bogios (drums, vocals, percussion); David Bryson (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals); Adam Duritz (vocals); Charles Gillingham (piano, hammond B-3 organ, accordion, harmonica, vocals); David Immergluck (electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, pedal steel, vocals), Millard Powers (bass, vocals, piano); Dan Vickrey (electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, vocals).
An (far) Eastern vibe wafts gently through the Town Hall from the stage, before the opening, instantly recognizable chords of 'Round Here' come forth. The stage pitch black save for some deep blue spot lights, which is a sight to behold, it makes for some superb visual effect when Duritz begins to sing - and is lit only from behind. It gives him the appearance of angelic wings attached to him, seriously!
Simply dressed in a black KISS tshirt and dark jeans, he looks slimmer, looks good. 'Round Here' then blends into 'Raining In Baltimore,' the two combining a perfect harmonious match. But for the purest amongst us, well, with 'Round Here' a slower, a seemingly-spoken version it's a little distracting, in truth.
And that spoken/sung theme to each song evolves as we progress, although the uber tuneful 'Omaha' is sung almost spot on normal. Adam Duritz's stand alone vocals take center stage, as expected for the overplayed-at-the-time radio song 'Mr. Jones,' but it's like he's trying too hard to orchestrate a hit version of what once was. His voice isn't what it was back then, that's plainly evident here, but the fact his mind has obviously not been on the song for many years, it's as if he's singing a karaoke version of it!
"Good evening, thank you so very much for coming out," Duritz says, leaning into the audience. "This is a pretty cool night for us. We had a really f**kin' busy summer. We're putting out two records this fall. We've got this one and, sorry about the delay, the real album in November. It's called Abbey Road," he laughs. [Editor Note - This was recorded in September of 2007!] Next is the depressing song, 'Perfect Blue Buildings,' which Duritz claims was actually his favorite song off the original album.
Admittedly, Duritz's vocals warm up as we progress and so to hear the always admirable folk-rock vein of 'Anna Begins' live is pure delight. This live showcase of their complete debut album continues with 'Time And Time Again,' which combined with Gillingham on the hammond B-3 organ, makes it one of the stand out songs on the recording.
Together with Immergluck on a beautiful mandolin, the blues/folk vibe barrels headlong forward with a near nine-minute 'Rain King' - a song that comes complete with so much lyrical potency that it lays musically heavy on the mind before we even get to the chorus! But, weirdly, and only seemingly on this track, Duritz's vocals (at times) sound like Steven Page from BNL ... I kid you not, just listen for yourself!
"Thank you, we hadn't played that up-tempo for a long time, until a few weeks ago. Been playing an acoustic version for a long time. This next song is about a girl I had back when I lived in San Francisco. Her family was very religious so she could never stay the night. And it was a long drive home each night. Then one day I got this feeling that it wasn't gonna last much longer. Not that I wasn't in love with her. But, I was thinking a lot about those drives and how it would be over soon. This is a song about something that matters and you just know it's gonna go. It's about someone named Susan, I don't know where she is now ... this is called 'Sullivan Street'," Duritz introduces, and soon the beautiful bluesy ballad; complete with Vickrey's electric guitar opening is upon us.
With crunching guitars bringing forth the musical behemoth known as 'Ghost Train,' the darkly constructed, blue/blues feeling of a set is brought to a close with the truly epic, near twelve minute long 'Murder of One.' Counting Crows are one of those bands that people either really love or don't like at all. On their debut album I think they put it all together for the best disc of their career.
This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.