In 1993, Counting Crows were having a hit record with “Mr. Jones” and during that same time, Rob Thomas was singing a cover of it at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa! Thomas shared that with the crowd in Tampa on Saturday night at Mid-Florida Amphitheatre! The lead singer of “Matchbox Twenty” lived on the west coast of Florida from Sarasota to Orlando during his teen years. Matchbox broke out nationally in Orlando in 1996 with “3 AM” a tune written by Thomas about his mother who was suffering with cancer at the time. They continued with a succession of hits such as “Bent”, “If Your Gone’, “Back to Good” and “Disease” which Rob wrote with Mick Jagger.
Thomas has had a successful solo career during several breaks from Matchbox. His 2005 release “Something To Be” was #1 on the album chart. He followed that up with “Cradlesong” in 2009 and his most current offering is “The Great Unknown”. Thomas is mixing this solo outing up with a setlist of hits and new music. His show is high energy with Thomas moving around the stage interacting with the crowd and his band of musicians. Rob was using LED lighting when it was new to the concert stage and it has only gotten bigger and better. “Lonely No More”, “Unwell”, a beautiful acoustic version of “3 AM” and “This is How a Heart Breaks” were some of the fan favorites in a show that lasted an hour. Thomas is clearly excited about touring with his long time friend Adam Duritz and as he left the stage promised “You are in for a special treat!”
The Berkley California Counting Crows opened their set with an emotional version of the 1994 hit “Round Here”. Lead singer Adam Duritz delivers a highly animated performance which is extremely engaging. The Crows are a bit of a jam band, changing and extending songs. A band that has mostly kept it’s original members, they have been playing together for over 25 years. The Crows are a continually touring band who has opened for the Rolling Stones. The band encourages live recordings and offers a fan bootleg website for trade but never for sale.
Of course, “Mr. Jones” was on the setlist and the enthusiastic audience sang along with Duritz. It was a hot, humid night and Duritz changed t-shirts from “A Tribe Called Quest” to ‘Lou Reed Transformers”. Duritz is known for having many musical influences. A piano appeared on the stage for Duritz’s spin on “A Long December” which had the crowd up on their feet.
Both Thomas and the Crows started out in the 90’s just long enough to be part of the end of the MTV generation before it went to reality programming. The grunge scene was changing the face of music. They have continued to write and perform new music for both film and the concert stage. Rob Thomas and Counting Crows survived the 90’s and are still here in the second decade of the millenium. Genius idea to put these two acts together for a tour! Great music never goes out of style!
photos by Vicky Sullivan, Rock the Lens Photography