Counting Crow’s Adam Duritz walked onto the stage sporting an Iron Fist T-shirt, and without a pause at all, went straight into “Hard Candy” and the show was on.
With a backdrop that looked like a lighted bridge, Duritz put on a show that was every bit the name of the tour – “A Brief History of Everything.”
They played plenty of their classic hits while slipping in some of their relatively newer songs like “Palisades Park” or “Dislocation” in between, but the crowd knew what it loved.
At 52, still sporting his signature dreadlocks on stage, Duritz was at ease throughout the show. He exuded every bit of the songs that he sang last night, this feeling of late ’90s, early 2000s, idealized sense of the summer. This casual, relaxed flow continued throughout the Counting Crow’s set.
The audience loved it too, if the sea of cameras Snapchatting or Facebook streaming or photographing was any indicator at all.
A little bit past the halfway point of their set, they played hit after hit from their earlier albums, with “Big Yellow Taxi” kicking it off before they slipped into “A Long December,” “Mr. Jones” and “Hanginaround.”
Stopping midsong during “A Long December,” Duritz told the audience about how this tour – Counting Crows’ second year in a row with Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas – came about.
He said he was having so much fun last summer he started asking himself, “How do we do this every year? Maybe a festival?”
And then a phone call came from Matchbox Twenty and the next thing he knows they’re in Spokane, playing the first show of their second summer tour.
“I (expletive) love these summers,” Duritz said right as Rob Thomas came up onstage to give him a hug.
It came a little bit as a surprise that they didn’t play “Accidentally In Love” or “Round Here” as part of their setlist though.
And then came Matchbox Twenty and, oh, how far they’ve come.
Matchbox Twenty hasn’t been in Spokane since 1998, and to hear Thomas say it, they’re really sorry about it. They tried to make it up to their fans last night with all their hits, one after another sending fans whooping and cheering and singing along.
Where Counting Crows was folksy and a little mellow, a summer shandy or a blonde ale with a little hoppy bite here and there, Matchbox Twenty was the scotch ale or imperial stout of the night.
A suspended array – nay, a wall – of lights played alongside each of Matchbox Twenty’s hits, transforming itself with each track.
Kicking their segment off with “Real World,” the crowd went wild. And stayed that way through the show.
Thomas danced along the stage from corner to corner, belting his voice out to fans reaching out for him, and it says a great deal about the popularity of Matchbox Twenty considering their last album was almost five years ago.
And Kyle Cook, who’s played lead guitar with Matchbox Twenty since their inception but left last year, was back on tour this time around.
Boy oh boy can that man play, and sing, with his fingers dancing and shredding across the guitar. Paul Doucette, nowadays playing rhythm for Matchbox Twenty, even jumped back onto drums when they played “Back 2 Good.”
Thomas knows how to work a crowd up and, by the time he was back for the encore and belting out “3 AM,” the crowd would have wanted him to play until 3 a.m.
But instead, 21 songs in and right after “Long Day,” he sat in front of a piano and ended the night with “Bright Lights.”
Hopefully, though, they won’t wait another 19 or so years before coming back to Spokane again.