Photography: Adam R. Harrison
Words: Adam R. Harrison
A Brief History of Everything… A fitting title for a 90s throwback, double-headlining tour featuring Counting Crows and Matchbox Twenty; two bands celebrating more than twenty year of music together. On this mild September evening, the duo would become one of the final seasonal concerts at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage.
Counting Crows would take the stage first and open their 90-minute set with “Hard Candy” from the 2002 album of the same name. The large seven-piece band, fronted by “the guy with the hair,” Adam Duritz, were in good spirits and playfully went about their evening. After all, the Crows’ music very much has that positive, happy nature to it. The band seem to shake things up from night to night with a few songs changes, which is understandable for a band who’s been playing together consistently for so long. However, what was peculiar this night was the decision to add in a couple lengthy and new songs near the end of the set and remove some of their biggest hits including “Mr. Jones,” “Hanginaround,” and the upbeat cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” Maybe this was a special treat for long time Toronto Counting Crow fans, but was sure to be a bit of a letdown for new comers.
Matchbox Twenty will always be one of the first bands that comes to mind when defining that late 90’s, Big Shiny Tunes era of alternative music. The kind of music that makes you clap your hands with a big goofy grin. With a little help from the charming and pleasant Rob Thomas leading the band, the crowd was doing so for MB20’s full 90-minute set.
Thomas sounded bang on, like he hadn’t aged a day since their initial release of their smash album Yourself or Someone Like You in 1996. The best part being that he still looked like he was having the time of his life performing old hits like “Bent,” “Push,” and “Unwell” all these years later. He interacted with the crowd regularly, even taking one fan’s phone on stage with him and filming himself and the band perform for her. But perhaps the highlight and when his vocals shined brightest was during “If You’re Gone,” from their 2000 album, Mad Season.
MB20 finished strong, returning for an encore with “3AM” and closing out the night with Thomas on piano for “Bright Lights.” Whether you were a long-time Matchbox Twenty fan or enjoying them for the first time, this tour was for everyone and real was a brief history of everything.