And The Gin Blossoms
MGM's Center Stage
June 13th, 2019
Many of today's so-called "legacy acts" meander on to any given city's stage, play their same tired set lists, amble off the stage, collect their check, and move on to the next city.
We've all seen it and, frankly, when you shell out close to a hundred bucks to hear a band's oeuvre that you grew up with and cherish, it's a slap in the face--if not the wallet--when you're mistreated like that. Right?
Well, two bands that came to prominence in the late 1980s played MGM Northfield Park's Center Stage Tuesday night; they did what a band is supposed to do: They entertained the hell out of the crowd. Tempe, Arizona-founded Gin Blossoms played a rousing sixty-five minute set, highlighting all the songs that accompanied your journey through high school or, as in my case, college. Frontman Robin Wilson's voice has aged remarkably well; his vocal prowess took us through the outfit's nearly-thirty year history, starting off the evening with "Lost Horizons," from the band's first major label release, 1992's New Miserable Experience. The majority of the band's hits came from that record and they were offered through the course of the thirteen-tune set. Deeper cuts such as "Competition Smile," from their sophomore effort Congratulations I'm Sorry also made an appearance, but the crowd really came to life when Wilson and Company tore into "Follow You Down," a major hit from their first album.
"Wonder" and "Break," from their 2018 drop Mixed Reality, also made the cut. Although the tunes were new additions to the band's discography, they fit in well with the Tempe sound the band perfected during Clinton's first administration.
Closing out the night with their signature tune "Hey Jealousy," the band proved that legacy acts can still bring a fresh, unlaundered spin to "yesterday's music."
Now, you'd think that taking the stage after such an energetic performance would be a difficult thing to do, right? No one wants to have to follow an act that has brought the audience to its feet multiple times.
However, Georgia's Collective Soul did just that. Frontman Ed Roland has the swagger of Jim Morrison, Freddie, or even Prince. This is a vocalist who seems to suffer from some middle-aged ADD sufferer who forgot to take his ritalin. He was a whirling dervish of energy that easily surpassed the Gin Blossoms performance, and, clearly, that wasn't an easy thing to do.
Starting off with "Observations of Thought," a tune from their upcoming album Blood, the manic energy overflowed into the crowd as Roland started off at the piano and then segued to his mic stand. Grasping the stand, and dancing with it like Fred Astaire did with a broom in Royal Wedding, Roland spun, danced, and swayed with it many times during the set. Part prop, part dance partner, the mic stand became a large part of Roland's evening as they both pitched back and forth with each song.
On tour in support of Blood, the outfit played four songs in total from the new effort. "Now's the Time," "Over Me" and "Right as Rain" have a classic Collective Soul sound. Roland's brother Dean always shines on the axe, and his playing on "Over Me" was especially notable.
Offering their most-well known tune early in the set, "Shine" was well-received by the audience. The tune, from 1993's freshman effort Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, was the only song from that album that the band played.
Towards the end of the show, Gin Blossoms' frontman Robin Wilson came out and joined the band in a cover of R.E.M.'s "The One I Love." It was an unexpected highlight as Roland gave lead vocal duties to Wilson and instead took up residence at the piano.
Finishing out the evening, the quintet played a few cuts ("Gel" and "Where the River Flows") from their 1995 "Blue Album" also called Collective Soul. After a rousing round of applause from the gathered '90s acolytes, the band gave us a loud, fantastic version of "Run" from their meticulously different 1999 drop Dosage.
Photos and Review by Brian M. Lumley