Counting Crows @ Birmingham O2 Academy – Saturday 1st November 2014


Review by Dean Pedley, Photos by Russ Tierney

Having opted to keep an increasingly low profile in recent years it is perhaps unsurprising that, when added to the law of diminishing returns, Counting Crows now find themselves performing at a nearly full Academy as opposed to one of the Cities arena venues – both of which they have packed out over the course of a career now approaching a quarter of a century. After parting with Geffen, their home for some 18 years, in 2009 the band have subsequently released two live albums and a studio album of cover songs independently. The current run of European shows provides the opportunity to showcase songs from the recently released Somewhere Under Wonderland which finds them back with major labels by way of Capitol and Virgin EMI.

Counting Crows
Counting Crows

Counting Crows are renowned for changing familiar arrangements of their illustrious back catalogue to suit the occasion, set lists are ever evolving and, as tonight’s show evidenced, will more often than not eschew some of their biggest hits. As the first night of the tour, it is something of a low key start with Adam Duritz seemingly somewhat distracted by the slightly ropey mix and mic problems until both band and audience really ignite when they launch into ‘Mr Jones’. The quieter and more subtle portions of the show (‘Possibility Days’ and ‘God of Ocean Tides’ in particular) are unfortunately hampered by the “loud talking at gigs” element of the audience who always serve to annoy but are seemingly ever present in venues such as this. They play pretty much all of the new album and although whilst it is arguably their finest since the debut it is still the likes of ‘A Long December’, ‘Omaha’ and their superb and heartfelt cover of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Friend of the Devil’ that make for the show stopping highlights across a set that almost touches the two hour mark.

Counting Crows
Counting Crows

The sprawling eight minute plus Springsteen-esque ‘Palisades Park’ opens the encore and Duritz delivers the evocative narrative of growing up in New Jersey with its themes of friendship, hope, loss and heartbreak and which looks set to become a staple of all future CC shows. A powerful ‘Rain King’ and ‘Holiday in Spain’ close a show that was equal parts tight and aggressive as it was understated and laid-back. With a strong album of new material now at their disposal and major label support you certainly wouldn’t bet against Counting Crows getting back to performing in arenas again before too long.


1. Sullivan Street
2. Untitled (Love Song)
3. High Life
4. I Wish I Was a Girl
5. Mr Jones
6. Possibility Days
7. Mercy
8. Scarecrow
9. Mrs Potter’s Lullaby
10. Elvis Went to Hollywood
11. God of Ocean Tides
12. Friend of the Devil
13. Omaha
14. Washington Square
15. Earthquake Driver
16. A Long December
17. Cover Up the Sun
18. Hanginaround

19. Palisades Park
20. Rain King
21. Holiday in Spain


See more of Russ’s photos here