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Patrick McDonald — 4/28/2015 11:56:25 PM
"Counting Crows take flight with a Wonderland of songs from new album in Adelaide PATRICK MCDONALD CHIEF ARTS WRITER THE ADVERTISER When you’re armed with a catchy new album, you might as well show it off — and that’s exactly what Counting Crows did in Adelaide on its 2015 antipodean tour, building its set around seven of the nine songs from Somewhere Under Wonderland. Its dedicated fan base clearly had already familiarised itself with the material, which compares more than favourably to the band’s seminal debut August and Everything After and 2002’s hit Hard Candy; incidentally the sources for most of the remainder of this show. As with its previous tour almost exactly two years ago, the gig was topped and tailed with singalong recordings of Bill Wither’s Lean on Me and the Mamas and the Papas’ California Dreaming. Sparse piano and sporadic guitar chords led into the contemplative opener Sullivan Street, escalating mid-song into a roar and flowing seamlessly into Scarecrow, which was played with a heavier rock crunch than the album version and evolved into a raucous electric guitar duel. Beams of light crisscrossed the stage for High Life before Counting Crows launched into one of the new album’s highlights, the rollicking, frenetic fun of Elvis Went To Hollywood, peppered with oddball outer-space references and pregnant pauses. The band kept the pace up for a loose, rocked-out reading of its breakthrough single Mr Jones, then pulled it right back for a rich, melodic, Hammond organ-driven rendition of the Hard Candy track Black and Blue and mandolin folk-rock strains of Mercy, with singer Adam Duritz slapping out the heartbeat rhythm on his chest. Charlie Gillingham’s accordion led the way on Omaha, with the crowd singing in response to Duritz’s hand cues, and things became even more introspective on the melancholy new Possibility Days. If I Could Give All My Love (or Richard Manuel is Dead) took on a rockier but looser feel, with Duritz opting for lower vocal notes in the usually soaring chorus, before he took us on a jangling flight to Miami — which lifted off again for a joyous reprise after a false “landing”. From its previous album of cover versions came an extended jam on jailed singer-songwriter Kasey Anderson’s Like Teenage Gravity, which built to a tumultuous rock’n’roll conclusion. Delicate dual acoustic finger-picking on the beautiful ballad God of Ocean Tides was topped by a triple guitar intro to the Grateful Dead’s Friend of the Devil, complete with a wonderful piano solo, which in turn gave way to banjo and harmonica on Duritz’s “favourite song’’ Washington Square. The new album’s other jumping pop-rock highlight, a catchy nonsensical ditty called Earthquake Driver, was followed by some equally mad mumbling from Duritz as he seated himself at the piano for A Long December and the rolling country-and-western of Cover Up The Sun, which sounds like it should be sung around a covered wagon. The crowd chanted on cue for the closing A Murder of One before the prerecorded, forlorn horn intro of the new album ushered the band back with the eight-minute encore epic Palisades Park, complete with its constant changes in style and tempo. Singalong renditions of The Rain King and Holiday in Spain closed the show, which was notable for its relatively straightforward readings of songs, devoid of any of Counting Crows’ often radical reinterpretations or interpolations. Almost as much fun as the music is Duritz’s rock’n’roll T-shirt “setlist’’, a revealing insight into his own inspirations. On this occasion he wore the Velvet Underground & Nico’s Andy Warhol banana design for soundcheck, then The Beatles’ Apple Records label to open the concert, followed by the New York Dolls’ lipstick logo and finally Mott the Hoople’s All The Young Dudes album cover. Mash up all those influences, and you’re only beginning to scrape the surface of a Counting Crows concert. Counting Crows Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide April 5"