The rock music of the 1990’s was riddled with bands whose contributions were quite frankly, very forgettable. But with all rules, there are exceptions. One such anomaly from that grouping is the Stockbridge, Georgia formed Collective Soul. The Georgia boys first entered the collective consciousness in 1994. With the breakout success of their first hit, Shine, they embarked on a five year run of chart topping fame that ushered in the new millennium. Taking a brief respite from recording a new record locally, they played a one-off show at Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, CA on Friday, January 13th.
The entertainment theater at Agua Caliente, simply called “The Show” is only about 60% full on the evening. Most of the attendees appear to be in their late 50’s to their middle 60’s. It was indeed an interesting demographic, for a band that hasn’t reached 30 years old. The average number of solar revolutions of the room did not seem to dampen the energy on the evening. The group breaks the ice with a new song off of their 2022 release Vibrating, titled Cut The Cord. This is a rollicking guitar burner with an equally energetic vocal pattern. Vocalist Ed Roland dances with his microphone stand and uses his whole body to emphasize his lyrics. He is also hard to miss, with silvery locks waving and dressed in a suit that looks like it may have been made from cast off material out of a draper’s shop in Wonderland. His apparel is in stark contrast to his band mates, who are mostly dressed in basic, non-flashy dark colors.
As typical California late arrivers funnel in through the first three numbers, the auditorium erupts at the sound of the opening riff to Shine. The audience mostly remains standing throughout the remainder of the show, taking brief breaks to sit on the slower numbers. The tandem of Jesse Triplett on lead guitar and Ed’s brother Dean Roland flank the stage on either side. The duet flawlessly reproduce the power chords and quirky hooks of their signature sound. Bassist Will Turpin mostly sits in darkened obscurity on the backline. From that perch he contributes backing vocals and solid bass lines. He does venture out now and then to show his face and occasionally exhorting the crowd. Drummer Johnny Rabb delivers a solid, tasteful and steadfast beat which serves the songs without drawing attention to himself.
In the hour and thirty-five minutes they are on the stage, they tear through one three to four minute tune after another. The troop are about as tight as a band can be. The last third of the show kicks off with a cover of R.E.M.’s The One I Love, which ratchets up the intensity in the room as well as in the band. Next is the fun and fast Gel which really gets the crowd into it. Gel is followed by the grungy Where The River Flows. The finale on the evening is the 1999 ballad Run, which features Ed Roland on acoustic guitar. At the conclusion of the closing number, Roland continues to strum away at the guitar while the remaining band members greet the audience, throw picks and sticks, and thank their fans. After about two minutes of this, the lights go down and the group meet in the right wing of the stage and have a short revival style meeting in relative darkness and dance to the continuing acoustic guitar. When that eventually subsides, the houselights come up and that is that.
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