Before I headed to the Counting Crows show at Red Butte last night, I pulled them up on Spotify. I wanted to re-familiarize myself with the band and in doing so I was surprised to learn that I knew a lot of their songs.
I was even more surprised to find that they played very few of the songs I recognized during their set, including, inexplicably, the absence of their biggest hit “Mr. Jones.”
In fact, for me, as a casual listener, it was nine songs in before I recognized anything coming from the stage, and then it was a cover of The Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.”
The great irony of this is that the name of the band’s tour, which lead singer Adam Duritz referenced at least once, is 25 Years and Counting. 25 years is a reference to the release of their debut album, August and Everything After, a quarter century ago. But we were 10 songs in before we got a song with radio play from that album with “Round Here.” And eventually, there were a handful of recognizable songs in the short 18-song (including encore) set: “Rain King,” “Hanginaround” and “A Long December.” That’s it. I knew four songs and one cover.
This is particularly baffling because Counting Crows have not released an album in four years. This should have been a nostalgia tour, plain and simple. You’ve got to give the people what they want. I’m sure there were people in the crowd at Red Butte who knew all of the b-sides and obscure songs that made up the setlist. But I know there had to be more like me in the crowd—disappointed.
In the not-sung “Mr. Jones” there’s a line that says, “I wanna be Bob Dylan/Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky.” Despite Duritz having the same awful dreadlocks as he did in 1993 he seems no closer to either of those goals.
Even Dylan sings his hits.