Counting Crows, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Augustana Bring Their Traveling Circus to the Greek
By Julie Seabaugh
"I'm a Russian-Jew-American, impersonating African Jamaican," the Counting Crows' Adam Duritz snarled on their Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings' "1492." And with the LA stop of genre-hopping summer tour The Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus and Medicine Show -- Counting Crows, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Augustana -- the erratically dreadlocked Crows frontman did his absolute durndest to get jiggy with...something.
The Greek Theatre curtain rose at 8 p.m. to reveal a whopping 18 musicians and Duritz, Franti and Augustana frontman Dan Layus swapping verses of Van Morrison's "Caravan." A symbolic and fitting choice, the song set the tone for three joyous hours of musician-trading and record-rewriting, including Duritz as an improbable hype man stalking the stage with hunched shoulders, emphatically throwing hands in the air, waving them carelessly during Spearhead's "Hello Bonjour" and cover of the Temptations' "Don't Look Back," which skillfully meandered into the Grateful Dead's "Casey Jones" territory and back again.
The sold-out crowd's yen for '90s nostalgia was sated by the Crows' extended "Long December" piano ballad and banjo, accordion and dual tambourine-bolstered "Omaha." Spearhead's uplifting, fist-pumping run included "Rude Boys Back in Town" and "All I Want is You" before Franti and a two-man rhythm core added Duritz and Layus for defiant new-ish groove "Sound of Sunshine," the solemn yet building "I Got Love for You" and the group's first Top 40 hit, piano-rag ebullient "Say Hey."