Crows, Goo Goo Dolls haven't lost their touch
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To call Counting Crows and the Goo Goo Dolls seasoned wouldn't be a stretch, though "seasoned" tends to be a euphemism for "old" and a polite expression for "past their prime." The popularity of these erstwhile rock giants may have peaked a decade ago and each has a middle-aged frontman: Adam Duritz, 42, and Johnny Rzeznik, 40. Moms and dads are more likely to know the words than their teenage kids.

But both demographics came out on Thursday night to pack Sound Advice Amphitheatre, west of West Palm Beach, to near-capacity. Duritz and Rzeznik did more than just remind those in attendance how they've made it this far: They offered the promise of even better days to come.

The Goos did so early in the evening with cuts from a new album, Let Love In. The choruses of new songs Stay With You and Feel The Silence tapped into the same soaring dynamics that carried the band's '90s hits. Critics bash the Goos for bland three-chord rock, but they know how to write songs -- a sentiment affirmed by people singing back from the seats. The trio, plus two tour musicians, fared best playing acoustic-electric ballads such as the sprawling Iris, Black Balloon and the breakthrough hit Name, which Rzeznik introduced by thanking his audience: "Twelve years later and we're still here."

The Crows are 13 years removed from their staggering, multiplatinum debut, August and Everything After, an album that provided six of the live set's 13 songs. While the Goos make no effort to reinvent the wheel, churning out albums that never deviate too much from their radio-accessible standard, the Crows sustain and prosper by constant tinkering and reinvention. New arrangements transformed -- and strengthened -- Anna Begins, Mr. Jones and the sophomore-album hit A Long December.

It's become common for Duritz to use the simple canvas of Round Here as a basis for improvisation, and on this occasion he turned it into a haunting 10-minute epic marveled at by concertgoers. It wasn't all Duritz, though: David Immergluck's mandolin and steel pedal, and Charlie Gillingham's deft keyboards and plaintive accordion, created their own tapestry.

Duritz, ever the maestro adapting and extending album versions, intertwined lyrics from A Murder of One throughout the set. Such retooling is necessary, given the Crows' dearth of new material, having not released a studio album since 2002's Hard Candy. That's about to change, however, with a half-electric, half-acoustic disc tentatively titled Saturday Night, Sunday Morning due next year, though the band failed to debut any new cuts on Thursday.

Ernesto had threatened to force this show's cancellation days earlier, prompting Duritz to mock the evening's tranquil, albeit humid, weather: "This is the hurricane, huh?"

The bands packed more punch.

Marc Weinroth is a freelance writer based in Miami.
Author: By Marc Weinroth

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