By Vlad T, Rock At Night Detroit and Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Live Review: Collective Soul w/Switchfoot and Jade Jackson-Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida – September 14, 2022
Collective Soul has amassed a considerable legacy, with a long string of major hits and well-received albums deeply ingrained in the hearts and ears of several generations of listeners. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has heard Ed Roland’s memorable melodies and velvety, spirit-infused vocals propelled by the masterful modern rock stylings of his bandmates.
Nearly three decades later, the band hailing from Stockbridge, GA (led by brothers Ed and Dean Roland) continues to find wildly supportive audiences with an appetite to experience its majesty live. And it was this enduring mutual fondness–along with the freshly released LP “Vibrating”—that brought the band, along with fellow 90s rock veterans Switchfoot, to Clearwater, FL’s Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Over the course of a set spanning both its numerous hits (“Shine”, “December”, “Gel”), new material (“Cut the Cord”), and even a cover (fellow Georgian legends R.E.M.’s “The One I Love”), ‘Soul demonstrated its ability to generate the atmosphere, feeling, and power that originally endeared fans to its recorded releases.
Ed Roland evoked the ethos of a preacher at the pulpit of rock ‘n roll, animating his songs of spirited contemplation with the same vigor as when they first burst onto the airwaves. His voice indeed continues to be a powerful, nuanced instrument, and his movement and gestures on stage were cogent and expressive. In a telling and poignant nod to some of his influences, Roland, explaining to the audience the band’s Georgia roots, acknowledged fellow Georgians Ray Charles and James Brown—“all our brothers.” Brothers in voice and soul…
Led by rhythm guitarist Dean Roland, the surrounding band (fellow original member Will Turpin, Johnny Rabb, and Jesse Triplett) brought soul, power, and precision to perfectly complement brother Ed’s lyrics and vocals. The orchestral undertones of the band’s early material, rendered faithfully here, were especially satisfying. It could be tempting for any band of Collective Soul’s vintage and laurels to deliver safe, middling performances at this stage of their career—but, much to the band’s credit, it’s doing the opposite, treating every new recording and live performance as a fresh challenge.
Thinking about the band after experiencing the evening’s performance, I see Collective Soul occupying a special position in music, continuing a succession of classic bands from the American Southeast—the Allman Brothers, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the aforementioned R.E.M.—that distinguished themselves with a blend of inventive rock, tones of spirit rooted in the region, and baroque flavors that altogether transcend the sum of its parts.
Hailing from Southern California, warmup band Switchfoot entertained the crowd with their brand of alt rock and paid homage to Tom Petty with “Won’t Back Down”. Almost mirroring Collective Soul, the band consists of two brothers Jon and Tim Foreman—and began their journey into the alt rock world in the mid-nineties. The band was energetic, enthusiastic and gave 100 percent during the set. A highlight was when the entire band stood at the front of the stage performing acoustic renditions of songs like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”with a snare drum, guitar, accordion, and a double-neck ukulele. Think Mumford & Sons.
The evening’s opener, singer/songwriter Jade Jackson, regaled the audience with a solo set of original titles, a lovely cover of Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”, and a short duet with a guitarist from Switchfoot.
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