WINDSOR, Ontario – While slot machines rolled and cards flipped to disappointment at Caesarâ€™s Palace Casino, the only safe bet Thursday, July 8, was not on the casino floor.
As the old-school circus inspired curtains rose just after 9 p.m, fans were instantly aware that they were in for a concert experience unlike any other, as members of all three acts immediately filled the stage to launch into â€œCaravanâ€, a Van Morrison cover.
In a style unlike most, the acts rotated on and off the stage, performing a mix of original songs and covers, with one act often joining another on stage to add accompanying vocals or instrumentation.
â€œI like the set up,â€ said longtime fan Katheryn Starr.Â â€œIt was more of a jam session as opposed to a very robotic show.â€
In the set that lasted just over two hours, Counting Crows played fan favorites â€œMr. Jonesâ€, â€œWashington Squareâ€ and â€œHanginâ€™ Roundâ€, while songs such as â€œRound Hereâ€ and â€œA Long Decemberâ€ were noticeably absent.
â€œCounting Crows shows have always been like that.Â You donâ€™t always get the song you want,â€ said Counting Crows vocalist Adam Duritz in an interview with idobi.Â â€œWe make the set list up in the afternoon, so you never really know what youâ€™re gonna get.Â Either you came willing to expect the unexpected or, you know, you leave pissed.â€
For some fans, emotions on this were mixed.
â€œI wish they would have played more of their own music,â€ said Starr, despite adding â€œIâ€™ve seen the Counting Crows three times and this is probably the best show Iâ€™ve seen.â€
Scattered throughout the evening, cover songs included The Rolling Stonesâ€™ â€œSweet Virginiaâ€, Bob Dylanâ€™s â€œJust Like a Womanâ€ and an extended, 15-member-plus rendition of Simon and Garfunkelâ€™s â€œCeceliaâ€, which kicked off the encore with beating drums, the twang of banjo and multiple vocal harmonies.
Midway through the set, Augustana took residency on the stage by keeping pace with the rest of the night.Â Launching with â€œSomeoneâ€™s Babyâ€, a song from their upcoming album, the band also played singles â€œDustâ€ and â€œBostonâ€, as well as a rock-inspired rendition of â€œFireâ€.
On their second trip to the stage, the quintet debuted another new song, â€œSteal Your Heart (Away)â€, before launching into an intimate, stripped down version of â€œSweet and Lowâ€, played softly as four of the bandâ€™s five members contributed vocal harmonies.
Hip-hop act NOTAR, who will release his debut album in the fall under Duritz’s label, performed two songs, “Matador” and “Stranger”, which featured Duritz on the chorus.
To close the evening, all three acts remained on stage to perform an extended, seemingly improvisational version of the Counting Crowsâ€™ â€œRain Kingâ€.
â€œHey, guys, get up to the microphones,â€ Duritz told the performers.Â â€œIâ€™m gonna need some help here,â€ he demanded as the band shifted to perform Beatlesâ€™ cover â€œWith a Little Help From My Friendsâ€.
As Duritz took center stage with the piano, it was clear that those onstage were enjoying themselves as much as, if not more than, those in the audience.
An impressive feat, considering fans were encouraged by the band to leave their seats to crowd in front of the stage, welcoming them to dance and sing along with the performers.
â€œIt was the best show Iâ€™ve ever been to,â€ said fan Cristina DiCarlo.
In a time when encores are expected, set lists are leaked on message boards and opening acts are often passed over, Counting Crows and the â€œTraveling Circus and Medicine Showâ€ bring something original to the table.
The â€œTraveling Circus and Medicine Showâ€ tour runs through Aug. 24, when the bands make their final stop at the Ravinia Festival in Illinois.Â For a full list of tour dates, visit the bandâ€™s official website at www.CountingCrows.com.