In reality, they band was most concerned with Malleys crisis itself. Still, Counting Crows was set on accruing their audiences utmost respect and affection, and each member faithfully strove to do his best for those at Winona State Universitys 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 Malleys missing magic.
Thats 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 bands seasoned material intermixed with several tunes from the recently-released Hard Candy. Duritzs 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. Potters Lullaby. However, the decided lack of play that the bands 99 album This Desert Life received can likely be attributed to Malleys 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 gyms 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.