Counting Crows

'25 Years and Counting' tour celebrates band's longevity

By MIKE COTE
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 15. 2018 12:50PM
Counting Crows, celebrating the band’s 25th anniversary, appear in Gilford on Saturday on a double-bill with Live at Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion. (EHUD LAZIN)
If you go...
WHO: Counting Crows and Live

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, 72 Meadowbrook Lane, Gilford

TICKETS: $35.75-$99.75

INFO: banknhpavilion.com, 293-4700

Before he had tasted real fame, Adam Duritz wrote a song about two musicians yearning for stardom. Even then, he had a strong sense about the dark side of celebrity. “Mr. Jones” became the first and most enduring hit of “Counting Crows” career — and it changed his life forever.

Duritz says the rock star experience for him has been just about as weird as he thought it would be when he co-wrote the song with guitarist David Bryson. The breakout hit propelled the band’s debut “August and Everything After” to sell 10 million copies worldwide.

“I kind of nailed that on the head considering I had no experience and I was just drawing on what seemed like common sense to me,” Duritz said in a recent interview with NH Weekend. “I have to say that because I thought it would be weird and great and also unsatisfying and hollow, and it was all those things. It is all those things.”

Duritz and Counting Crows mark a quarter-century with the “25 Years and Counting” tour, which arrives at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion on Saturday on a double-bill with Live, another ’90s act that enjoyed its greatest commercial success early in its history.

While Duritz has always been the frontman of Counting Crows, the core of the band has been together for most of the journey. Dyson and keyboard and accordion player Charlie Gillingham were on board for the band’s debut. Guitar, mandolin and pedal steel guitar player David Immergluck also contributed to the album, though he did not join the touring lineup until years later. Lead guitarist Dan Vickrey joined in 1994.

Duritz’ friendship with Immergluck predates the band.

“(Immergluck) and I have been playing together for almost 35 years now. I think we started in ‘84, was the first time we played together on anything. So that’s been a really long time,” Duritz said.

While the tour celebrates Counting Crows’ longevity, there’s no hint of it being a farewell for a band whose string of radio hits include “Long December,” “Hangin’ Around,” “Omaha” and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.”

“There’s something about being in this band that it doesn’t seem like there’s any reason for it not to go on forever,” Duritz said.

He might not know what to do with himself otherwise. Touring with the same bunch of guys has been a constant for nearly half of his life.

“I’ve lived that life with a certain group of people that I’m very close to for a long time. It’s weird to be together for that much time, and then not see them at all for awhile,” said Duritz, 54. “I get so used to all of us living in the same place. And then we don’t. I really miss them ... It’s a very natural friendship that all of us have.”

It’s the kind of bond that enabled the core of Counting Crows to camp out one week a month for a few months at Duritz’ home to come up with the songs that would become “Somewhere Under Wonderland,” the band’s 2014 album and most recent recording.

“It was interesting to do it that way, to woodshed it with the four of us. The nice thing about that was when we got into the studio there was more than one person who had a pretty good riff on a song,” Duritz said. “Usually it’s me just coming in and showing people, but it’s nice to have four people all of whom understand the song to sort of get the band together.”

“Somewhere Under Wonderland,” included the eight-minute epic “Pallisades Park,” released as the album’s first single. A critic for allmusic.com compared its narrative sweep to Joni Mitchell’s work on “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” While Duritz doesn’t see a direct connection, he certainly admires the association.

“She’s probably an influence on everyone whether you know it or not, especially the early works, “Blue” and “Ladies of the Canyon,” “Hejira,” Duritz said. “There’s a huge influence in the way music is made from those records just like Dylan had in some ways. She influenced a lot of people, and it trickles down for sure, in the writing, in the freedom of the singing.”

But Duritz had other rockers on his mind when the band was crafting the song.

“To me it has a little more of a direct line from like “Coney Island Baby” (by) Lou Reed. I was definitely thinking of Lou Reed, of Mott the Hoople. There’s definitely some early Springsteen in there. Just kind of painting a picture of this world I was trying to create that these kids grew up in and partially relating to the one I grew up in.”

While Duritz considers “Somewhere Under Wonderland” one of the band’s best albums, he wasn’t happy with its reception. With music moving to streaming and away from physical discs and even digital downloads, the days of racking up another multiplatinum album are all but gone for most rock acts.

“Capitol was probably the most diligent and dutiful — did the best job I could ever even imagine a record company doing on a record. And it still barely impacted the culture,” Duritz said.

He’s reluctant to begin work on another album right now because he’s worried about its eventual fate in the marketplace. What’s the best way to promote music in a fragmented environment?

“I’d like to figure it out or at least figure a bit more of it out before we do the next one because I know how I am,” Duritz said. “As soon as I start really writing songs and getting them down, I want to record them, I want to put a record out. It’s very hard for me to resist that.”


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