The blipping of concert ticket hand-scanning commenced, finally. It was a delayed and welcome sound for fans of midtempo, heartstring-yanking and radio-ready ’90s rock on Saturday night.
Because of high winds and reports of a storm system bearing down on Niagara County at “8 or 9 o’clock,” according to an off-the-record venue employee, a decision was made to move the outdoor Seneca Niagara concert featuring headliners Counting Crows – with Rob Thomas in opening slot – indoors. The show then became standing-room-only and rock ’n’ roll prevailed.
There were reports of lighting cranes and portable toilets succumbing to the winds – the former wobbling and the latter tipped over. Some snooping about the barren outdoor venue – where guards directed concertgoers to the air-conditioned casino across the street – revealed two portable toilets on their sides – a terrifying sight indeed.
A scant 150 fans, with some reporting that they had been in line since 5:30 p.m., gained entry to the lobby just outside the Seneca Entertainment Complex, the vast ballroom where events happen year-round. When doors to the ballroom finally opened, fans ran at top speed for spots ringing the stage.
Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz and David Bryson came onstage briefly to thank the road crews, and to apologize for the show’s delay.
“We are really sorry, it wasn’t safe out there,” Duritz said. The remaining members of the throng entered afterward in waves, many during the set of the bill’s third act, solo and acoustic K. Phillips.
Rob Thomas, ever buff and smooth of voice, hit the stage after a short instrumental interlude. The stage-side screens were dark, proving that sometimes it is best to be in an analog moment, looking at the real, not the projected.
Thomas, band and duo of lady backup singers strutted into several of his deft works off of his solo, post-Matchbox Twenty releases. It was after opening “Something to Be” that he addressed his fans, praising the mettle of the stagehands.
“I’m just glad we made this happen, it’s all about the music. We could have a good time anywhere! You guys with us?”
Yes they were, and up for a rollick. He’d spill on crew gratitude again after a lovely “Fallin’ to Pieces.”
“They saved the show,” he said. “ We don’t have all our production, but they put up another show in here in record time.”
Thomas’ set highlights included Prince’s thumping dance classic “Baby I’m a Star,” his former band’s “3 a.m.” (peak sing-along moment) and his platinum Santana duet, “Smooth.” Closer “This is How a Heart Breaks” ended things soulfully.
Counting Crows – solid and lovely, band members drifting about the stage merrily – powered through a set with material from their seventh studio album, “Somewhere Under Wonderland,” sprinkled with their megahits. “Colorblind,” a lush rendition, was prefaced with one of the lead singer’s many tales.
Texas boy K. Phillips opened with a spare 15-minute set, hitting the stage in full denim and western-worthy lid. He did three off his not-yet-officially-released “Dirty Wonder,” songs covered in road dust and honky-tonk licks.