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September 23, 2014

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Review:

Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket stick to the hits at Mandalay Bay Beach

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Bryan Haraway / Mandalay Bay

Frontman Adam Duritz and his band Counting Crows at Mandalay Beach Beach on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket

Frontman and guitarist Glen Phillips and his band Toad the Wet Sprocket at Mandalay Beach Beach on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

If you were expecting a night of deep cuts and new material, Sunday’s show was not necessarily what the doctor ordered. But Counting Crows knows where their bread is buttered, and their Mandalay Bay Beach concert was an exercise in how to keep a crowd engaged and singing along.

Frontman Adam Duritz, who celebrated his 50th birthday this month, was upbeat and in fine voice as he dug into set opener “Round Here,” twisting the phrasing of the lyrics as he prowled the edge of the stage, the six-piece band settling in behind him.

Duritz kept the mood playful throughout. He laughed off a few lyric flubs in “Omaha” with guitarist Dan Vickrey and restarted “A Long December,” feeling his initial reading of the “Recovering the Satellites” hit was a bit too dead to close the main portion of the show.

He even joked about having almost been killed the last time the band tried to play the Beach (their 2013 gig with The Wallflowers was canceled due to lightning) and was grateful the forecasted rain this time around held out.

Of the three performed songs off the forthcoming “Somewhere Under Wonderland” (due out Sept. 2), “Palisades Park” fared the best. Clocking in at close to 10 minutes, it’s as near as Duritz has come to a full-length Springsteen homage, and the band deftly navigated its frequent twist and turns, arriving at its hushed closing refrain just as The Boss would in, say, “Jungleland.”

Opener Toad the Wet Sprocket proved why they are one of the more underrated bands in the ’90s alt-rock milieu, mixing laid-back hits with material from their recent crowd-funded release “New Constellation.” The new “California Wasted” and the title track, a “Neil deGrasse Tyson-style love song,” to quote frontman Glen Phillips, fit seamlessly alongside “Walk on the Ocean” and “All I Want.”

Toad the Wet Sprocket’s setlist: “Something’s Always Wrong,” “Good Intentions,” “The Moment,” “Come Down,” “New Constellation,” “Windmills,” “Crazy Life,” “Nightingale Song,” “Whatever I Fear,” “All I Want,” “Fall Down,” “California Wasted” and “Walk on the Ocean.”

Counting Crows’ setlist: “Round Here” (with “Palisades Park” tag), “Untitled (Love Song)” (The Romany Rye cover), “I Wish I Was a Girl,” “Come Around,” “Mr. Jones,” “Colorblind,” “Mercy” (Tender Mercies cover), “Omaha,” “Earthquake Driver,” “Miami,” “God of Ocean Tides” and “A Long December.” Encore: “Palisades Park,” “Rain King”/“Oh! Susanna” (Stephen Foster cover) and “Holiday in Spain.”

Jack Houston is the editor of Las Vegas Magazine, a sister publication of the Las Vegas Sun.

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