Counting Crows, Spearhead And Augustana Take New York

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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Photo Credit: LA Weekly

Last night, the Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus and Medicine Show rolled into New York City. The Show finds three bands at the peak of their powers — Counting Crows, Augustana, and Michael Franti and Spearhead — playing revue-style, blending their sets together to create one immensely enjoyable evening of music. Taking over Central Park’s SummerStage, the three acts cross-pollinated seamlessly, creating a Last Waltz-like, good-time Americana vibe, one that made room for Spearhead’s funk and reggae leanings.

Not that Spearhead didn’t know how to rock — they worked covers of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Casey Jones,” “Tainted Love” and “In the Summertime” into their infectious set. They also made room for their new single “Say Hey (I Love You),” the band’s first ever top 40 hit. Cali folk-rockers Augustana proved themselves more than capable of “hangin’ around,” — their original songs were as well-received by the crowd as were any of the evening’s frequent cavalcade of covers. Lead singer Dan Layus’s honeyed, rough-and-tumble vocals made a nice foil for Crows frontman Adam Duritz’s more adenoidal vocal acrobatics.

The Crows music can be overly brooding and serious, but Duritz seemed exceedingly happy on stage. The singer, who spoke candidly about his mental health issues in 2008 when the band released their major-label swansong, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, was loose and amiable. The tour seems to have given him the opportunity to indulge his music-lover side, over his exceedingly lonely, insomniac side. His singing sounded better for it — less histrionic, and more awe-inspiring and Van Morrison-esque. Whether wringing the soul out of the Stones’ “Sweet Virginia” or blending ” the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” into the Crows staple “Rain King,” Duritz was in top form. The Crows even broke out “Mr. Jones,” a song they once refused to play.

The evening wrapped up with the everyone on stage, harmonizing on a stirring rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” And with that, the Medicine Show rolled on.

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  1. Love that chick Cherine Anderson her voice is incredible. She had the presence and talent to match those crazy dudes on stage . I am also digging her style, her black & blue dress with chucks was so hot. This was my third time seeing the traveling circus and I love the concept of all the bands playing tunes together . I’ve never seen so many musicians on stage all at one. Augustana was great too.

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