After a building collapse, a global pandemic, and a
destructive hurricane or two, the Saenger Theatre has been forced to close and
reopen so many times in the past two years. Crows are typically harbingers of doom,
but The Counting Crows seemed to bring hope with them to our city. Their nostalgic
tunes and light, airy attitude just helped everyone to breathe a deep, collective
sigh of relief. And it's looks like better days are to come.
The show was opened by Sean Barna and his band, who somehow made
me think of The Mamas & The Papas with the inclusion of a 1990s-esque organ
drone. Our crooner/guitarist Sean led the sizable group of six, sporting a
glittering red-on-black shirt which contrasted the rather happy and thoughtful
music that poured forth. However, the crew did add a large dose of humor to the
set. Sean stated, "The next song is called 'Sleeping With Strangers,' which
is about sleeping with strangers. I'm gay so I do it a lot." His friends
and fans in the audience all the way from Brooklyn wailed at that.
The big band made way for something much lighter but with no
less impact. Adam Duritz himself introduced Matt Sucich as "a quintessential
New York singer/songwriter." Matt was joined by a couple of the Counting Crows, who
lent a helping hand on instruments including a steel guitar during various parts
of his set as he rambled through his ultra-Americana tunes on an acoustic
guitar. Little did I know that there would be quite the variety of instruments
not often seen at rock shows coming soon.
The Counting Crows took to the stage without much grandeur;
they didn't need that kind of pretense. The entire audience was already
standing and cheering for them as they launched into "Round Here" then "Hard
Candy." Adam slowly and gracefully paced the stage, singing and speaking
poetically. Maybe prophetically as he ended his songs softly and whimsically.
The third song jolted the already entranced crowd: "Mr.
Jones." Adam hardly had to sing a note since everyone was already singing it
for him. Sometimes he would dip the microphone into the audience to make them
feel like they were the ones on the stage. In fact, the stage was lined with photography
lighting gear that made you feel like you were in a massive photoshoot with
them. The photography rigs and the cascading floor-to-ceiling netting behind
them gracefully changed colors depending on the mood of the songs.
Whenever a song came along about Louisiana, they were
usually a soft orange like the Louisiana sunsets. "Cover Up The Sun" was obviously
a huge hit this night, and it really put people into a sentimental mood. I
really appreciated the addition of an accordion played by keyboardist Charlie
Gillingham and a mandolin played by guitarist David Immergluck. Adam got
excited by this palpable communing, and he said this was the longest stretch he's
gone without playing in Louisiana since he was a teen. "I appreciate a
town full of crawfish," he gleefully yelled, and the crowd roared with
acceptance. Adam also said that he may have gotten a little buzzed during the
opening acts, and they roared again.
This was a long, glorious set with nearly two dozen songs, and still no one could get enough. The crowd favorites were "Goodnight Elisabeth," "When I Dream of Michelangelo," and certainly "Holiday in Spain." But, alas, it did have to end. The Counting Crows took flight and left us a little lighter of spirit and with the songs of easier days in our ears.