Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, Florida • April 19, 2019
by Michelle Wilson
Collective Soul is one of the most underrated bands to emerge from the 1990s. The fact that they are STILL doing it, and doing it smashingly, is a testament to just how formidable they truly are. Fresh off the Jon Bon Jovi “Runaway to Paradise” rock cruise on the Norwegian Jade out of Miami, the band kicked off this leg of their tour in Clearwater at the fabulous Capitol Theatre. There wasn’t a seat to be had at the sold-out event and the crowd stood for the entire show, proving that these guys STILL seriously know how to rock. When I say that there wasn’t a seat to be had, I mean it. Our seats were high-back chairs smack up against the soundboard. We loved every minute of it.
At 8:10pm, the lights dimmed and Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ “Pump It Up” got everyone on their feet dancing, followed by the entrance of founding member and lead singer, Ed Roland (opting now to be known as E Roland), who headed straight for the far side of the stage to play keyboards. Along with Roland’s brother, guitarist Dean Roland as well as bassist Will Turpin, the three original members were joined by guitarist Jesse Triplett and drummer Johnny Rabb.
Opening with “Observation of Thoughts” (also referred to as “Observation of Thought”), a new track off the band’s forthcoming release, Blood (June 21), the band immediately kicked it into high gear and set the tone for the evening. Several cuts from the unreleased record have been in the set rotation for many months now (six of them on this show’s set list), meshing seamlessly with the group’s established catalog. They are still delivering the riff-heavy intros and catchy hooks that established them as one of the premier post-grunge bands, and they continue to thrive.
Frontman Roland had a wonderfully easy rapport with the crowd and was full of hilarious one-liners, such as “As you can tell I grew up on Elvis and Pepé Le Pew.” and “The life of a rock star. Where do you go? SeaWorld.” But he was serious about thanking the crowd. He thanked us for our patience in listening to the new music. “We gotta do this. We’re gonna play a couple of new tunes. By the way, you’re gonna fucking love ’em!” One of those new tunes was “A Good Place To Start,” which has major echoes of Cat Stevens. Also on tap from the new effort were “Now’s The Time,” “Over Me,” “Crushed” and the first single, “Right As Rain.”
But new material wasn’t the only choice on the menu. Throwing it back to Dosage (1999), the boys dug deep and pulled out “Tremble For My Beloved.” “This is one we put back in the set list for this run. Hopefully I remember it,” Roland teased. They also did a killer version of “Heavy” and a very special performance of “Needs” off the same record during the main set. Roland brought up two fans who are also cancer survivors. He spoke at length about the women, pointing out that one had attended 55 Collective Soul shows. Following a false start, Roland and company restarted and pulled off a heart-wrenching execution of “Needs” as both ladies held the lyric sheets for Roland and even sang a bit. “My wife and brother said we need to play it. I’m like, fuck, man,” admitted Roland. As he played acoustic guitar and sang, standing between these two brave fighters at the mic, he joked “How cool am I right now?” There were lots of hugs, kisses, tears, and cheers, and it was just the thrill of a lifetime for these two diehards and a very tender moment indeed. “Thank you guys for letting me do this and once again, FUCK CANCER!” It’s defining moments such as this that endear this band to its long-standing fan base.
Covering a wide range of their discography, the crowd also was treated to “Why Pt. 2,” “Better Now,” “Precious Declaration” and “AYTA (Are You The Answer?).” Of course, no Collective Soul show would be complete without the heavy hitters: “Shine,” “December,” “The World I Know” and “Gel.”
“I want to thank you for allowing us to live a dream for 25 years and releasing our tenth record. Thanks for allowing us to feel like family and friends this evening. We love this venue!” shared Roland sincerely.
Closing it out with “Where The River Flows” and “Run,” the band members all moved to the front of the stage, kidding around with each other, waving, fist-bumping with fans and smiling the genuine smiles of a group of men who truly love what they do and who also love each other, but who also appreciate their fans. As Roland continued to play acoustic guitar and the adoring crowd belted out the chorus to “Run,” the band took their leave with another spectacular show in the books.
Collective Soul continues to tour and I highly recommend that you catch their show if it comes nearby and grab their new record, Blood, which drops on June 21. It will be some of the best money you ever spend.
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