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Collective Soul - Now’s The Time Tour
Settler’s Park - Rockton, IL
June 16, 2019

Collective Soul brought their brand of “under the radar” classic rock to rural Rockton, Illinois and lit up small town America in more ways than one.


When I refer to Collective Soul as “under the radar” rock, it’s a term of endearment. Their brand of music is one that 90% of the population of Earth is familiar with, but it seems that only about 5% of those people would know a face or a name associated with the band. A common reaction I hear when a Collective Soul song gets played is, “Oh! I like that song! Who is this again?” But, on this particular evening in Rockton, a small Midwestern town just outside of Rockford, Illinois, there was a large group of fans that set out to prove that theory wrong.

As the band took the stage they eased into a song called “Observation Of Thoughts” from their upcoming album Blood. Instead of the crowd looking lost with a new song being thrown at them, they started to sway and clap like they had been listening to the track for years. From that point on, I knew I was going to be proud of this group of fans. Obviously, the band is proud and confident with the new material from Blood, because they would go on to play a total of four songs from the album, their tenth studio effort. 


As soon as the last note of that opening track faded into the cool breezes of the evening, the riff of their popular hit “Heavy” kicked in and the crowd erupted. After spending the first track hidden behind an upright piano, singer E Roland grabbed the mic stand and took command of the stage, not unlike a strutting Mick Jagger. Donning a blue felt variation of a pork pie hat with a lavender and gray floral print scarf neatly wrapped around the top, Roland voiced the entire set with fire and soul. Reminiscent of Paul Rodgers in the way he never sings a song the same way twice, these songs were sung from somewhere closer to the chest than the throat. Roland was impressive in every way. 


As the band started rattling off many of their sharp and heavy opening riffs, the lighting for this show really made this a dynamic presentation. With the band mostly lit from behind, we got a lot of great rock star poses silhouetted against the giant tapestry that simply had the name of the band transcribed across it. Seeing guitarist Jesse Triplett throwing himself into each and every solo was a show in itself. He was grinding hard on the heavy rock anthems and closing his eyes, throwing his head back, and feeling every inflection on some of the more passionate passages. He and Dean Roland know their responsibilities to this music and they accomplish their tasks flawlessly. Drummer Johnny Rabb and bassist Will Turpin are the other flawless duo behind Roland that provide the swing, the groove, and a lot of the more punishing power for this band. 




A special part of the set came when the band welcomed Gin Blossoms singer Robin Wilson to the stage to sing on a cover of the R.E.M. classic, “The One I Love”. Having been impressed by Wilson and his band in the opening slot, it wasn’t until hearing him slay this cover that I really felt blown away. His tone is remarkably similar to an early Michael Stipe, but his strength might even be greater. He was impressive, to say the least.
The band ripped through so many of its heaviest songs, keeping the hungry crowd with them every step of the way, but their exit from the stage came with the odd choice of “Run” from their 1999 album Dosage,
one of the softest songs in their catalog. After playing the bulk of the song, the band co
ngregated at the front of the stage to say their goodbyes while frontman Roland continued to strum the rhythm. The band, including Roland and his guitar, would slowly disappear but the rhythm would continue to be played for the crowd. It was as if the band really didn't want to say goodbye. Hearing fans serenading the empty stage with “Have I got a long way to run” for four or five minutes was a poignant moment that spoke volumes about the power of this band’s music. 


This tour not only celebrates the band’s new album Blood, but it also celebrates their 25th year of making unforgettable rock songs. With all those years under their belt you might think they would be winding down, but hearing Blood and seeing their electrifying live performance only signifies that Collective Soul is at the very top of their game with a whole lot left in the tank.






SETLIST

Observation of Thoughts
Heavy
Why, Pt. 2
Shine
Better Now
Now's the Time
Over Me
Precious Declaration
December
Right as Rain
AYTA (Are You The Answer)
The World I Know
The One I Love (R.E.M. cover with Robin Wilson)
Gel
Where the River Flows
Run


For a full list of tour dates and more info about Collective Soul, visit:
http://www.collectivesoul.com/

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