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Blu-ray Music Review: Counting Crows – August and Everything After – Live At Town Hall

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It was late 1993 and both of my children were still using my home as a base of operations during their college days. My youngest daughter, who was a couple of years out of high school, would play August and Everything After constantly, every time she was home from college. It blasted out of her speakers morning, noon, and night. I grumbled about her overplaying the same album and no doubt the decibel level as well. Unknown to her I purchased a copy and give it a number of spins while she and her sister were away at school.

August and Everything After is one of those debut releases that was not only well-crafted and influential, but has remained a respected album in rock history. It has sold seven million copies in the United States alone.

Time quickly passes in life and the music world, and while Counting Crows have always been creative and excellent; they have not been prolific, releasing only five studio albums to date. As such many of the songs from their debut album have been performed hundreds and maybe close to thousands of times.

It was not rocket science for the band to finally play their famous debut album live, cover to cover. A number of the songs have evolved down through the years and are far different from what had been originally released. A couple of the songs had hardly ever been performed live and the newer members of the band had never even played some of them.

The current lineup that took the stage at Town Hall in New York City, September 18, 2007, included stalwarts Adam Duritz (vocals), Charlie Gillingham (keyboards, harmonica), David Bryson (electric and acoustic guitars), plus Jim Bogios (drums), David Immergluck (guitars), Millard Powers (bass), and Dan Vickrey (guitars).

The songs follow one another in rapid succession as the 90 plus minutes of music fly by. It is similar to being reintroduced to old friends who have evolved, matured, and emerged stronger and more interesting because of their journey through life. The songs are presented with emotion and passion, and the music remains honest, poetic, and melodic.

The trio of songs “Perfect Blue Buildings,” “Anna Begins,” and “Time And Time Again” dominate the middle of the concert, and present the band and live rock at their best.  The introspective lyrics and musical tempos demand the listeners’ complete attention. The Springsteen-influenced “Rain King” is a creative masterpiece. “Ghost Train” is extended out and forms a nice bridge to their most important song, “A Murder Of One,” bringing the concert to a dramatic conclusion.

For the Blue-ray disc, the video is in 1080i high definition widescreen 16×9. The audio is DTS HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1, and LPCM Stereo. Subtitles are available in English, German, Spanish, and French. A bonus feature is an extended interview with Duritz and Gillingham. It all adds up to a crystal clear sound and picture; particularly impressive are the contrasts between the colors and the grays.

August and Everything After – Live At Town Hall is a fascinating look at the live modernization of a classic and important album. So grab a copy and enjoy the ride. I may even send a copy to my daughter.

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