Fans were delivered a double dose of pleasure on Friday, August 5th at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY. Counting Crows and Rob Thomas put on an impressive display of professional musicianship for over three hours. The sprawling and bucolic venue is nestled in the rustic setting of Bethel, New York – and actually a historic site as it was built where the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair took place. The weather was perfect and the pavilion and lawn housed a near-capacity crowd.  

Rob Thomas has been entertaining the masses for two decades and he brings a celebrated catalog of well-written songs. He led a varied set which represented many of his past hits and recently released hits. He is touring in support of his album, “The Great Unknown,” a title which refers to his wife’s brave struggles with a severe illness. With his trademark look with an earring in each ear, skinny jeans and a buzz haircut, the man is admired by men and women alike. It is his passion for the music and a powerful delivery that lures them in like a tractor beam. There were multiple highlights over the course of the one hour+ set. At one point he stated from the stage, “I’ll be playing a bunch of cover songs tonight, but it’s ok – I wrote them.” Naturally he was referring to the classics he created as frontman and composer for the band Matchbox Twenty.

The “covers” included “Bent”, “Unwell” a poignant and alternate take on the band’s biggest hit, “3 A.M.” This presentation was an alternate piano version both subtle, yet powerful and contagious. The crooner also covered David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” which was offered in a fun and punchy fashion as Thomas darted around the stage with an enthusiastic and youthful exuberance. The peak of the night was the incendiary version of the 1999 latin-tinged blockbuster #1 song “Smooth.” The song helped Thomas garner 3 Grammy Awards that year including the coveted “Song of the Year” and “Record of the Year.” Buoyed by the bombastic beats, the crowd erupted to their feet to dance and sing along to the classic. Thomas added a call and response to the audience at the end with the delivery of “Give me your heart, make it real” before turning the microphone towards the audience for their participatory, “Let’s not forget about it.” It was ironic as Thomas had given his heart to the crowd and the fans indeed would not forget about it anytime soon. The show concluded with a fiery “This is How a Heart Breaks” – a song derived from the 2005 “…Something to Be” album.

Setlist: Rob Thomas at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY – 8/5/16

Set: Something to Be, Mockingbird, Her Diamonds, Getting Late, Lonely No More, Let’s Dance, Fire on the Mountain, 3 AM, Someday, Bent, Pieces, Unwell, Streetcorner Symphony, Smooth, This is How the Heart Break

Long-time Counting Crows frontman, Adam Durwitz, celebrated his 52nd birthday last week and clearly the party is still going. They shared a satisfying and intense set of quality music. Counting Crows is Adam Duritz (vocals), Jim Bogios (drums), David Bryson (guitar), Charlie Gillingham (keys), David Immergluck (guitar), Millard Powers (bass) and Dan Vickrey (guitar) – all professional musicians who know how to pound out a groove and fill in around Durwitz’s low and unique voice. Having released seven albums, with the most recent being 2014’s “Somewhere Under Wonderland”, there is a trove of rich material to choose from. The band jumpstarted the show with “Round Here” – a slow, emotional song and second single released from their 1993 debut smash album, “August and Everything After.” The live version demonstrated the range of the band and was an alluring start.

Adorning his patented dreadlocks, Durwitz again exuded cool and it comes to no surprise he is well-known to have dated some of the most beautiful actresses in the land. Wearing an ELO t-shirt, paying homage to the successful 70’s band, he steered the band through an anticipated highlight. The band’s biggest hit, released in 1993, “Mr. Jones” was a bit of a disappointment. A deliciously well-crafted pop song, fans sought to scream and dance, but Durwitz slurred his delivery through an uneven and uninspired take on the chart buster. He never even said the line, “I wanna be Bob Dylan” but perhaps having performed it so many times over the past 20+ years he is a bit tired of the ditty that put him on the map. A glaring omission from the set list this tour was their hit from the soundtrack, “Shrek 2”, called “Accidently in Love. “ However the highlight of the night was the evocative and intense “A Long December” which had Durwitz on keys and accompanied by a sexy accordion. Some fervent fans even had tears in their eyes as Durwitz poignantly continued with the popular1996 song. After 3 energetic encores, the band left the crowd feeling satiated and happy for a Friday night filled with such enjoyable musings.

There are 30 more national tour dates with one probably at a local venue near you, so check it out!

Setlist: Counting Crows at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY – 8/5/16

Set List: Round Here, Hanging Tree, Mr. Jones, Color Blind, Los Angeles, Sessions, God of Ocean Tides, Michelangelo, Ghost Train, Elvis Went to Hollywood, A Long December, Murder of One

Encore: Palisades Park, Rain King, Holiday in Spain

[Photos by Kevin Ferguson/Courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts]