ALBANY The show Sunday night started with the Collective Soul band members, led by Ed Roland, appearing on the Egg’s Hart Theater stage without instruments to tell us what to expect for the show. Roland said that they will play through their 1999 album “Dosage,” take a break and return to play “the songs that you have heard way too much, but you’re going to hear them again.”
Nice of him to run down the show for his sold-out crowd. This gave us a glimpse of his personality and was the last we heard from him before he sunk into character to run through the songs of the set.
They opened with “Tremble for my Beloved,” and moved directly into “Heavy.” They played straight through “No More No Less.” Here they got it going as a band for the first time with Joel Kosche playing a repetitive lead riff that drew the group in tightly. But they cut it short, at its highest moment.
For Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney's preview of this show, click here.
They changed the dynamic slightly with “Needs,” where Roland strapped on an acoustic guitar. Not much happened here, but for the fans, every song means something to someone, so this was met with a big response from the crowd.
Roland was a fun dancing fool on a few tunes. He flit around with his knees and toes pointing in, leaned over with both hands gripping the mike stand, singing with his wanting tones. He was a cross between Pee Wee Herman and an ultra-light Jim Morrison.
“Slow” featured the Collective Soul guitar hook that’s used to grip nearly all their songs. At Sunday’s concert, the hooks followed song after song and you couldn’t miss how similar they felt.
“Run” might have been the best tune for the first half of the show. Toward the end, the band members faded to black and Roland came out to the edge of the stage to strum chords aggressively while mouthing the chorus, the audience singing “I got a long way to run” over and over. He lifted the energy by increasing his emotionally dense strumming.
Roland often sounds like Roland Gift from the Fine Young Cannibals. He particularly sounded like the British singer when he began “Compliment.”
They came out with fresh energy for the second set singing “Welcome,” a great tune, Roland again jumping around like an excited kid. This time he acknowledged the crowd a little, asked for the house lights on, and told us how “happy” he was a few times. No one else in the band offered any personality.
Roland asked them to sing “Better Now” with him, and insisted they sing louder with every verse.
Before “Forgiveness,” he said they chose some songs based on what they wanted to play — “songs we hadn’t played much.” “Precious Declaration,” one of their heavier tunes, got people out of their seat.
“The World I Know” is a great tune and scored well. “Hollywood” is that quintessential Roland song. It appears to have depth, appears serious, and at certain levels it is. But in the end, every song seems to have the goal of easy consumption and quick access for the holy grail of airplay. That doesn’t make them bad, but it does keep the music in a certain box.
For Collective Soul fans, the night was easy: they heard one of the band’s best albums straight through, and heard a good chunk of their hits. They should be, as Roland asked of them, happy.