Collective Soul

House of Blues

June 07, 2005

I remember laughing at a friend for having the Foreigner greatest hits CD. I didn't respect the band until I listened to the CD and recognized many songs I hadn't realized were theirs("Cold As Ice," "Jukebox Hero"...). Ten years from now, there will be someone who will stumble upon a Collective Soul greatest hits CD and go through the same thing. "Oh, I just batched Collective Soul in with all those other(Live, Bush, Candlebox) soft post-grunge bands. I didn't realize they had so many good songs."

I discredited the strength of Collective Soul's catalog until last night at the House of Blues. The twelve year-old band from Atlanta played many recognizeable songs, and if they didn't sound familiar, it didn't really matter. Even the new and obscure stuff was well-crafted, muted pop/rock. Middle of the road. Collective Soul might not have challenging songs, but they sure can write catchy, soaring melodies. It was a feel good concert. Jaded indie kids that only bow to the underground needed not apply.

Collective Soul is a radio/stadium rock band, but they wouldn't have gotten this far with their loose, spiritual vibe alone. Example: Live's first album of neo-hippie numbers didn't explode like their shaddier second album. Collective Soul has just enough danger and dark power chords for the most macho frat kid to feel comfortable and the oldest woman to feel like she's rocking out with the kids.

Collective Soul walked onstage arena rock style to an uppity song from the stereo that encouraged everyone to get in the mood. Considering Collective Soul always had a clean-cut look, it was kinda funny to see lead singer/major songwriter Ed Rolland wearing bleached long hair, a brown mustache, and a white long-sleeved undershirt underneath an orange t-shirt. It looked like he was thirteen years late.

The band ran through lesser-known hits like "Precious Declaration," "Where The River Flows," and "Heavy." The solid songs were accompanied with a dramatic live show. Lights went off and on to accent moments, and Rolland was a great showman. He waved to the crowd, jumped up and down, and ate up the applause. At one point, he waited after a song was done and stood motioning towards himself and nodding. While encouraging the praise, he said, "I'll take it." He did everything except personally hug every person in the crowd. He wore a knowing smile. He knew he was a rock star, and that was ok. The confidence was what the band's heart-on-the-sleeve and sometimes cheesy sentiments needed for back-up. Roland had a gravity-defying mic stand. He threw it forward and did some windmill arm motions before it came back to him. He twirled it, too. All that stuff.

Later in the set Collective Soul mentioned their new self-released album, "Youth," and from it they played "Better Now," "Why," and "Counting The Days," which I thought was an AC/DC cover at first. They moved onto their big hits--"December," "Gel," and "World I Know." Of course, they saved "Shine" for the encore.

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