DVD Review: Counting Crows, August And Everything After: Live At Town Hall

I've seen Counting Crows live several times. I admit fully to being a fan and there are several reasons for that. (See how "Mr. Jones" is already slipping into this piece?) I was quite pleased to receive a copy of the Counting Crows' concert DVD, August And Everything After: Live At Town Hall. This particular concert is unique because for this one show, the set list was the album August And Everything After, (and is there a fan out there who doesn't love this album?) played beginning to end. After watching this DVD, I think I would have given my right leg to be at that show.

I've always loved Adam Duritz's lyrics because his metaphors have always spoken to me. Sitting at home listening to a Counting Crows album makes me want to write. But watching Duritz and the Counting Crows perform is an entirely different experience. This DVD captures their phenomenal performance experience in a way I didn't expect. Duritz is amazing on stage and I'm always blown away by the depth and range of emotion he can project while performing. He is at times tortured, angry, melancholy, exuberant, or playing the clown. And it never feels practiced because I have literally seen him in concerts play one song incredibly angry and then at another performance sing the same song full of sorrow. But this concert is not solely an Adam Duritz act: the musical adeptness of the band is astounding. Counting Crows is a band known for its improvisation on stage, which they do extensively in this concert, and the way the band can keep up with Duritz' change-ups is impressive. But more than that the inherent joy the band obviously feels performing this concert simply leaks out of the TV screen and infects the viewer.

The DVD opens with a stunning and poignant mashed rendition of "Round Here" and "Raining In Baltimore" and that primes you for the rest of the concert. Which takes you on a rapturous journey that ultimately celebrates not only the album August And Everything After, but the journey of the band's experience from the album that started it all, through the growth and changes that were added over the years, to where they are today. The DVD also includes an in-depth interview with Adam Duritz and Charlie Gillingham that provides some not-so-surprising insights into the tumultuous creation of the album and how maintaining their creative freedom was the best decision they made.

As much as I highly (highly!) recommend this concert DVD to anyone, not just Counting Crows fans, I still feel like this review is falling short. It is just really hard to capture the complexity of the performance that is the Counting Crows. There is almost a serendipity to how this band comes together, almost accidentally, to create something amazing. For example, I leave you with this, in the words of Adam Duritz regarding the show:
"It was just a prank we were playing on the band. ...there we were, Immy & I, sitting on the bus in New Jersey after soundcheck in late-August at the end of that summer, thinking how funny it would be to spring a setlist on the band right before the show that was simply August And Everything After played from top to bottom. A setlist with several songs we hadn't played in years, including, as it turned out, several that our drummer Jim and our bass player Millard had NEVER played at all (neither me nor Immy knew that and neither Jim or Millard told us 'til later; so in the end, I'm not even sure who the joke was really on)."
Well, it wasn't on any of us, that's for sure.


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