Adam Duritz made it look easy.
"So you want to be a rock 'n' roll star?" the Counting Crows' singer/songwriter crooned, quoting the Byrds song by that name. "Just get
an electric guitar and take some time to learn how to play," he continued, before launching into the opening lines of the Crows' 1993 jangle-pop hit, "Mr. Jones"
The rootsy rockers' frontman clearly was in a mood to reminisce.
Sitting at the edge of the stage before launching into an extended version of "Round Here," Duritz recalled the days when he and guitarist David Bryson were living in a warehouse on Fourth Street in Berkeley "by the railroad tracks and by the ocean."
"We used to think about what it's like to be in a band, a good band, or whether we should quit and do something else," he said, peering out into the crowd.
"Cuz you wonder in your mid-20s whether you're going anywhere, and then you get to this point and you find yourself right here." As the crowd cheered, Duritz moved into the nostalgic lyrics of "Round Here" (RealAudio excerpt).
The band Duritz, Bryson, guitarist Dan Vickrey, bassist Matt Malley, keyboardist Charlie Gillingham and drummer Ben Mize followed with a rendition of "Have You Seen Me Lately" that Duritz referred to as somewhere between its original "big guitar" recording on August and Everything After and its "quiet torch" rendering on the 1998 live album, Across a Wire Live in New York.
While his easygoing nature was apparent through much of the performance, Duritz at one point scolded the crowd for squishing people in the front. "They're turning purple," he said as he again sat on the edge of the stage. "It's a cool color, but it's f---ed up."
The Crows' east-stage performance featured other early hits, including "Rain King," along with more recent songs, such as "Long December" (RealAudio excerpt), from their latest studio effort, Recovering the Satellites
(RealAudio excerpt of title track). Duritz slowed it down for "Long December," playing piano while singing.
The Crows got some help introducing "Hangin' Around," the likely lead single from their upcoming album, This Desert Life. Duritz, wearing a smirk that hinted at his excitement over revealing the tune, invited members of the Boston band Gigolo Aunts to accompany them. The Crows and their guest performers gave the new number a layered, anthemic feel.
Introducing the song, the dreadlocked Duritz continued in his nostalgic vein, saying the song was about "being in my mid-20s in Berkeley, Calif., and getting stoned too much and going nowhere." Accordingly, the tune pivoted on the lyrics, "Hanging around this town on the corner/ I've been bummin' around this old town for way too long."
With the members of Gigolo Aunts who are signed to Duritz's e pluribus unum label singing and playing along, "Hangin' Around" gave the Woodstock audience a promising preview of the Crows' forthcoming October release.