August and Everything After Live At Town Hall
Eagle Records (ER202192)
By Patrick Prince
Some make the mistake of writing off the Counting Crows as a band of the moment back in the mid-’90s. The band’s debut album, “August and Everything After,” sold a reported 20 million worldwide, its tracks quickly inundated commercial radio playlists, and the vocalist got the right exposure by dating Hollywood actresses. But a deeper listen into “August and Everything After” provides profound lyrics and melodic angst. Counting Crows’ members were more than just pop stars who capitalized on buzz.
“August and Everything After” was Counting Crows’ defining album; everything “after” was really a disappointment in comparison. The debut album emoted the beauty and the stress of modern life. Its soothing nuances and electric guitar strums, combined with the nervous distinction of Adam Duritz’ voice, made the record close to a masterpiece. So it seems only natural that the band should honor such an accomplishment with this live disc, “August and Everything After — Live at Town Hall” — the band’s third professionally produced live album, recorded at Sept. 18, 2007, at Town Hall in New York City (and also available on video). It is a dramatic performance of an album played live in its entirety (even though the song “Raining in Baltimore” is sampled briefly). It is a celebration of an album that deserves to be recognized as a true 5-star release.
Counting Crows’ live shows have become known for their energetic spontaneity. On this night, the opening track “Round Here” meanders at first, eventually settling into a nice tribute with natural emotional expression. Other songs, like “Omaha,” charm right away with straightforward emphasis. This live performance of “August and Everything After” is right on the money: It is one of the best live releases of the year.