By DAN MACINTOSH
Counting Crows gave the best performance of the weekend at BeachLife Festival 2021.
“Triumphant” is the only word that fits this fully satisfying Crows appearance. Even though lead singer Adam Duritz looks more like sports radio personality Petros Papadakis than the white dude with faux dreadlocks from back during the act’s heyday, he was fully engaged and loving every minute of his appearance Saturday night.
The group’s set began with a thoughtful rendition of “Round Here,” and ended with a joyous, crowd-assisted singing of “Rain King.” Duritz commented that he was extremely happy, after 30 years, to have folks still coming out to see them. With performances like this one, it’s easy to see why Counting Crows music is still extremely relevant.
The 3-Day BeachLife Festival concluded Sunday with a set by Ziggy and Stephen Marley performing the songs of their iconic father, Bob Marley. This festival added up to an eclectic mixture of musical variety that offered something for most every musical taste.
The pairing of these Marley brothers sure looked good on paper. Ziggy, for one, looks and sounds just like his famous dad, so it seemed like a certain artistic success. The results, however, were far less pleasing. It’s difficult to put a finger on why this concept failed, but one culprit was the lackluster performance from the siblings’ backing band. Sure, it felt good to sing along with “No Woman, No Cry,” but that was more out of love for than original song than loving what was being performed on stage.
The festival organizers are to be commended for keeping performance time conflicts to a minimum. The one exception was Gary Clark Jr. and Nicki Bluhm’s sets beginning at the exact same time. Clark gave a serious, and seriously compelling, performance of rock blues, exemplifying why he’s one of rock music’s best new artists, while Bluhm nicely mixed country twang with Memphis Stax soul.
Other festival highlights included Portugal. The Man’s collection of song performances, which included covers of no less than Nirvana, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie. Additionally, Ben Harper’s show suggested there just may not be a roots music style he hasn’t mastered wonderfully. He incorporated blues, reggae, soul and even a touch of classic rock sounds into a completely exemplary set. Another unexpected surprise was The Main Squeeze, which put on a fine display of admittedly derivative funk music. They did George Clinton proud during their afternoon slot.
One big disappointment, however, was Men At Work’s Saturday show. In contrast to many of this festival’s other more visually appealing front man performances, over an hour of watching sole remaining member Colin Hay just stand statue-like, just got boring fast.
Although it did get a tad chilly on Sunday night, the weather was beautiful throughout. It also didn’t hurt that one vender was giving away free ice cream during the hotter parts of the day. Overall, attending this three-day festival was exactly the best way to escape all the bad news and live out a lazy, sun-worshpping beach life for a weekend.
Wrap-up Photos to Come