Counting Crows - August and Everything After: Live At Town Hall
Record Label: Eagle Rock Records
Release Date: August 29, 2011
August and Everything After is a great record and “Rain King” is just one of the great songs on it. But in this Live At Town Hall version of the album, “Rain King” gets a whole lot better. What’s the best way to make your awesome song more awesome? Easy. Just insert Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” – which, in this reviewer’s opinion, is not only better than “Rain King,” but in fact the best song ever recorded – right smack dab in the middle of your song. That’s a step-by-step process to make your songs better.
But seriously, when Adam Duritz randomly launches into the phenomenal opening track off Born To Run in the midst of “Rain King,” it just feels natural in a way. Duritz, throughout the entire enjoyable ride that is August and Everything After: Live At Town Hall, interjects stories or lyrics from other tracks in nearly every song. While it can get tedious on repeat listens, just remember that you’re, um, in your living room. At a live show – and I’ve never seen Counting Crows live before or heard any of their previous live records, so I’m reviewing this from that perspective – this is the stuff of legend. This is the stuff that makes you forget about half of the shitty punk bands you see in your friend’s basement and just makes you believe in rock and roll again.
The opening trio, which is the most important part of the album in my mind, is executed very nicely. “Round Here” gets an extended version to the tune of over 11 minutes, and if you thought you could feel Duritz’s emotion on the record, you haven’t heard anything yet. Duritz simply opens a vein and lets his emotions run wild on the stage like animals, like his dreadlocks suddenly untamed themselves and he turned into a great lion and instead of roaring till he was hoarse, he played this record from front to back and left it all on stage.
Now even though that last sentence had quite a bit of imagery in it, this live performance is not perfect. The version of “Anna Begins” here is not something that I can get into or even appreciate; the best part of that song is its entirely laid-back nature and this live version seems too sloppy for my taste. “Sullivan Street” starts excellent but sort of loses me in the middle before coming back strong, and I find myself only really enjoying “Ghost Train” during the jammy parts.
All this record does is make me want to see Counting Crows live, and isn’t that what a live album is supposed to do? Playing August in its entirety is a truly special occurrence and I’m delighted that it got recorded for everyone to hear – if only because “Murder of One” should be required listening for everyone who grew up in the 1990s. This is recommended listening not only for those who enjoy the band, but for those who wish the rock and roll groups of the mid-70s who put on epic live performances never went away.
Love the review and love the DVD; only problem I have with it is the audience doesn't seem quite into it. Other than that is makes me soooo happy to have a real legit DVD amongst my many many bootlegs.