At the first of three sold-out (non-consecutive) nights at the Wiltern promoting their newly-issued third studio album, Counting Crows — led by emotive, dreadlocked singer Adam Duritz — tried hard to be convincing, but all their apparent talent and all their effort added up to a lackluster evening.
The Northern California folk-rock band has enjoyed a charmed existence since coming out of the competitive Bay-area coffee house scene in the early ’90s.
But the sextet, which has two multi-platinum albums under its belt, has never been a very convincing concert attraction; rather they’re a band for people who don’t go to see live music very often.
The band played many of the 10 songs found on the new “This Desert Life” (DGC/Interscope), the most cohesive and accomplished of their three studio releases, but the passionless renditions of tracks like the dreamy “High Life” and dramatic “I Wish I Was a Girl” failed to live up to their recorded selves.
Duritz’s mostly-mid-tempo songs, composed and delivered in the classic tradition of Van Morrison and The Band, generally concerned themselves with beautiful losers who can’t find their way in an unforgiving world, a bit of a hard-sell considering the ease of success the band has experienced.
The players (other than drummer Ben Mize) all switched off on acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, keyboards and piano, with the occasional accordion or table slide thrown in, but the resulting underwhelming concoction more resembled such bland outfits as Hootie or Matchbox 20 than it did their previously mentioned influences.
A somewhat energized version of 1993’s “Rain King” was among the 16-song perf’s few highlights, as was the regular set closer and recent single “Hangingaround,” which featured all the players from the two opening acts, plus about 20 audience members, singing and dancing.