The 70’s and 80’s have been well-represented with large arena tours this summer, running from Hall and Oates with Tears for Fears, Styx and REO joining together, Bonham and Cheap Trick celebrating with Foreigner for their 40 year anniversary. Not to be left out or forgotten, the 90’s have two great bands touring together, Counting Crows and Matchbox 20, who are celebrating their 20 years in the music biz!
Counting Crows were the early birds on this double bill. The Crows came on the national scene in 1993 with the hit “Mr. Jones”. Still having the majority of original members, is a feat for any band these days. Lead singer Adam Duritz and songwriter for most of the band’s music, is an always engaging front man. Emotionally charged, interesting and mysterious, he brings honesty to the catalog of the Counting Crows. Opening tunes were “Hard Candy”, “Omaha” and “Dislocation”. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” cover which had Vanessa Carlton on backing vocals for the record was a hit for them in 2003, and sounded great with the audience chiming in. Duritz took to the piano for the 1996 ballad “A Long December” which brought out the light of cellphones all over the amphitheater. Coming back for the encore, they closed with “Palisades Park” and for Crows fans the hit “Rain King”. Lights for this show were stellar and 53 year-old Duritz is still as intriguing as ever.
Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas was in high energy on Tuesday night! Part Florida boy as a kid, Thomas lived in Sarasota at 10 years old and moved to Orlando where the music all started. He played local Tampa spots like Skipper’s Smokehouse and the State Theater with his first band “Tabitha’s Secret”. Opening the show with “Real World”, the crowd was on their feet. He thanked the Tampa audience for sticking it out with them through the years. Matchbox became one of the 90’s most successful bands. They hit it big with their 1996 debut album “Yourself or Someone Like You” which gave us “Push” and “3 am” both of which they played in original versions.
They sailed into the new millennium with the album “Mad Season” and the edgy hit “Disease” which Rob wrote with Mick Jagger. An obvious crowd favorite as they played it, Thomas was in full kinetic mode. During “Mad Season”, Thomas took a fan’s cell phone and sang into it for most of the song, running around stage; the audience was eating it up! “If Your Gone”, “Bent” and “Unwell” were represented. “Hand Me Down” was beautiful with Rob on acoustic guitar. The encore brought Thomas to the piano for the huge crescendo of “Bright Lights”.
All original members are back with the exception of Adam Gaynor who left in mid-2004. Guitarist Kyle Cook is back and opened the show with Sheila Marshall, their new duo is called “Rivers and Rust”. Who said there wasn’t any good music in the 90’s? Duritz and Thomas are two of the best songwriters of then and any time! A great summer tour!
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock The Lens Photography