By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Review: Collective Soul at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida
Finally this crazy pandemic year is coming to an end—and a great way to close it out (and begin the new year) is with a live concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida. With proper social distancing rules and masks in tow, concertgoers lived 90 minutes of sheer rock glory, hearing all of the classic rock hits by one of the best and underrated bands of the 90s—Collective Soul. For someone who lives and breathes attending and photographing concerts, there is no better way than to go back to a happier time—1990s grunge era—and relive those years.
Before the band emerged on stage, Karen Carpenter’s “Sing” blared through the PA system. Lead singer Ed Roland walked on stage, donning a vibrant yellow plaid suit and equally bright yellow shoes. His hair was shorter than recent years, slicked back over his ears, and he donned yellow-tinted glasses. Brother Dean Roland stood on his left side, playing rhythm, guitar, and Will Turpin, another original member, stood next to the drum kit, with bass in hand. Johnny Rabb manned the mighty drums and the animated lead guitarist Jesse Triplett pranced at the right side of the stage.
Collective Soul performed a newly penned song “Let the Love Grow” before segueing into a familiar favorite “December”. The mood got even heavier and grungier, as the band played “Heavy,” “Gel”, and “Why, Pt. 2”.
Ed Roland paused saying, “This is a great welcome back! Yeah.” The audience clearly appreciated the concert, with most standing and dancing, and fist pumping through the evening. Cheers, whistles, and cries of “we love you Ed” permeated the air between songs.
A special moment was when Roland asked, “Do we have any first responders out there? Stand up! We dedicate this next song to the first responders.” He then sat behind a piano and began performing the melody to “Shine” before the song shifted into a full-blown electric version, backed with strobes and flashing lights. As the song paused, the audience sang the familiar “yeah’s” and the chorus, “Whoa, heaven let your light shine down.” A real highlight during the evening!
The mood mellowed with “She Said” and Roland explained, “We were in Sarasota practicing for the new tour [when COVID broke out]. I was down there with our engineer and Cheney (former drummer). We were there for three weeks—and not paying attention.” He explained how that session turned into another musical side project. Then, lockdown occurred.
He continued, “In July, we got together. We couldn’t wait to see each other.” The band resides in various cities around the country, so Roland was happy for them to reunite—and create a new record, which will be released in 2021.
Roland then proceeded to perform solo on the acoustic guitar a new tune called “La Di Da”. The band joined him for this acoustic-driven song, which was reminiscent of Cat Stevens, before segueing into the timely ballad “Run”.
Roland announced the band would reprise “Let the Love Grow”, since it is a new song, and they would enjoy playing it again. “Rod Stewart would play a song again as an encore, “ he noted.
Collective Soul then performed “The One I Love”, penned by fellow Georgia band REM, before breaking into the energetic “Better Now.” Roland beckoned to an audience member to join in on the chorus, as he shared the mic with her at the edge of the stage. Hopefully, she sang with her mask on. The song paused while the audience sang the chorus, “the world’s done shaking, the world’s done shaking me down.”
At this point, Roland shared his thoughts, “For 26 years we’ve been around. This is going to be one of the most memorable nights for us. Let me hear you!” The entire audience stood, cheered, and whistled. For 90 minutes, the world felt normal and a message rang clearly, “we are going to be alright.”
Appropriately, the evening ended with the song “The World I Know”. The band hugged on stage and fist bumped concertgoers in the front row. The Collective Soul concert was the perfect way to end the year. The evening was not only memorable for the band but every person that sat in a seat, wearing a mask, distanced apart, and appreciating every musical note.
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I’ve known
It’s the world I have known
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