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ISSUE 116 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/11/2003

Crows still 'counting,' minus one bass player

By Molly Bayrd
Arts Editor

Friday, April 11, 2003

Bassist Matt Malley’s five bandmates missed him considerably on Sunday night. Perhaps the musicians, otherwise known as Counting Crows, had genuine concern for the family emergency to which Malley was committed. It’s likely, however, that each member (not including lead singer, Adam Duritz) was most concerned with covering Malley’s parts on the bass, which was passed from person to person throughout the evening.

In reality, they band was most concerned with Malley’s crisis itself. Still, Counting Crows was set on accruing their audience’s utmost respect and affection, and each member faithfully strove to do his best for those at Winona State University’s McCown Fieldhouse.

Duritz assured the fans that he would inform them when one of his pals made any mistakes, but the elated masses at WSU, stacked on top of one another in the packed gym, seemed as though they could have cared less. All were oblivious to the one-day crash course that the bandmates had undergone the day before in order to compensate for Malley’s missing magic.

That’s how good the band really is. The Crows’ amazing Sunday performance, subtly enhanced by a candle-lit stage and a backdrop of glittering stars, was a smooth exposition of the band’s seasoned material intermixed with several tunes from the recently-released “Hard Candy.” Duritz’s whining vocals bordered on flawless, and his constant musical digressions amidst songs implied that he was truly enjoying himself.

Though some “Hard Candy” tunes seemed to fall on deaf ears (many talked through the piano-accompanied ballad “Goodnight L.A.”), a multitude of songs from earlier albums – namely, “August and Everything After” and “Recovering the Satellites” – left the audience thoroughly satisfied. Duritz, alone with his piano for “A Long December,” made the evening worth the meager twenty dollars that fans paid for tickets.

Notable songs, such as “Omaha,” “Goodnight Elisabeth,” and “Anna Begins,” elicited a considerably positive reaction from the crowd, though the overplayed and lesser-impressive “Mr. Jones” and “Round Here” were the songs to which most sang along.

Ultimately, the only thing the Crows forgot to perform was “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby.” However, the decided lack of play that the band’s ‘99 album “This Desert Life” received can likely be attributed to Malley’s unexpected departure. Though the radio hit “Hangingaround” encouraged a lively response from the concert-goers, it should not have been the only song from “This Desert Life” that made the set list.

Still, the Crows played a calculated show, and true to form, saved the best for last. Their purely dazzling encore – a medley of “Rain King” and “Raining in Baltimore” – was the best performance of the evening. Laid back and loving every minute, the band poured their souls into the few minutes of the evening that remained.

The Crows departed from McCown Fieldhouse smiling and waving humble goodbyes to the crowd as “California Dreamin’” blared over the gym’s loudspeaker. Duritz mouthed a few words to the song before he saluted the audience and exited the stage behind his bandmates. His prolonged farewell was the perfect ending to a thoroughly unforgettable performance.

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