Live shows are an integral part of the Counting Crows fan experience. Like plants in a breeze, songs bend and sway to the internal biorhythms of the band and crowd. In 2008, the band stumbled across a brilliant idea: create a soundboard recording of every show and sell it online, in essence making a live album each night. So what does this live track-by-track version of the group’s debut album add to the glut of live material? Unfortunately, not much.
Live At Town Hall finds the boys doing the same covers and alternates they’ve done for years: “Private Archipelago” during “Round Here”, “Doris Day” during “A Murder of One”, and “Thunder Road” during “Rain King”. It’s like they’re recreating a set from 1997 minus the hunger that made those early sets so powerful, adding neither to the standalone beauty of August and Everything After nor to the well-documented Counting Crow live experience.
The band does sound phenomenal. Songs like “Perfect Blue Buildings” and “Ghost Train” get the attention they rarely receive live. There’s good stage banter and a great intro to “Sullivan Street”. However, there’s nothing illuminating, there’s nothing that fans haven’t heard before. What we’re left with is a reminder of what a poetic storm cloud Adam Duritz was in the early ‘90s and why, for many years, like self-immolating traveling preachers, Counting Crows converted listeners wherever they went. Still, you could piece together a better version of Live At Town Hall from a summer’s worth of bootlegs.