For starters, as requested by the band, a smoke-free Revolution Live was a thoroughly enjoyable Revolution Live.
That said, Collective Soul’s performance had high expectations from their fans, and the band did not disappoint, drawing from its extensive catalogue and sticking to the straight rockers that have garnered them acclaim.
The Georgia rockers brought along Atlanta power-pop trio Kick the Robot as openers, and they did a great job getting the crowd going — especially since most of the middle-aged goers were there specifically for Collective Soul. Kick the Robot’s informed blend of paisley revival, Mersey Beat-inspired, soft digital touches and straight riffage was high energy from the get-go.
I had a chance to speak with the openers after their set, and Daniel Remel, Dylan Hansen, and Jesse Scarpone were very nice and earnest, clearly enjoying the road with a band who, let’s face it, could be their dads.
As it turns out, Kick the Robot met Collective Soul at SXSW and were subsequently asked by the band to join them on tour for its southeast leg. Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland even wore one of their t-shirts during their set! I do encourage you to check out Kick the Robot, as their full-length Music to Fight the Future is legit rock. The one bone I’d pick with their set, however, was the large and bright Collective Soul graphic that backlit them, which could’ve been turned off during their act, as it was a little distracting.
While Kick the Robot broke down their equipment, roadies set up Collective Soul and one misguided fan launched a Yuengling tall boy onto the stage. Luckily, it didn’t hit anyone, but that gesture seemed unnecessary — not to mention just plain stupid. Way to go, Fort La-dee-duh.
By this time, Revolution Live had filled out nicely, and while one would think Collective Soul’s entire raison d'être rests upon the success of 1993’s “Shine,” the band's multitude of other memorable hits from its career did not go unforgotten.
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Ed and Dean Roland and the rest of Collective Soul put on a spirited performance, clearly pumped on the eve of the release of their latest offering, the back-to-basics rocker See What You Started by Continuing. They played a few cuts from the new album to great feedback from the crowd. From opener, “December,” to “Why Pt. 2,” to “Contagious,” Collective Soul kept the energy up in a more than 20 songs set through which an excited Ed waltzed his way. Now in his early 50s, with short, salt-and-pepper hair, he’s no longer the brooding longhair grunger of the early '90s, though he's still very much a believer of his work.
That’s important, because it's been through his will and determination that Collective Soul has forged on where many of their original contemporaries faded away. Of course, they began their closing with “Shine" — It would’ve been akin to Pearl Jam’s hatred of “Jeremy” if they didn’t, and they traipsed into “Run” for a satisfying finish that had fans singing along well after the band had abandoned their instruments and posts, a lone Ed on acoustic guitar walking it out.
What does the future hold for Collective Soul, based on last night's performance? It’s hard to tell. Maybe this connection with a younger act, Kick the Robot, might bring new fans into the fold, but as long as they stick to the rock they know and refrain from trying to over-poppify their sound with studio tinkering, they’ll be just fine.
It also helps to put on honest and fun performances like last night’s.