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COUNTING CROWS' vocalist Adam Duritz has a sick voice. And that made Counting Crows' fan Gerry Catalano of Kenmore sick, too.

For the third time in four years, the popular folk-rock band canceled a Buffalo area concert, this time as the headliner on an alternative music triple bill at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center Thursday. "I'm sick about it," Catalano said. "I'm only here because I was committed to taking my cousin's four kids."

Catalano may have showed, but there's no telling how many of the amphitheater's empty seats were the result of the Counting Crows' can-cellation. Still, by the sounds of the non-stop screaming inside the amphitheater, it would seem those in attendance were satisfied just to see Jakob Dylan and his band, the Wallflowers.

Displaying the same personable nature he did on his first visit to Buffalo last November, the adorably unpretentious Dylan immediately connected with an audience that gushed and squealed at his every word.

The Wallflowers' opening number "Ashes to Ashes," a track off their self-titled 1992 debut, set the tone for lead guitarist Michael Ward's potent blues-laden style. Ward's sizzling playing is one reason the band breaks loose live with intensity not found on the recorded material. The group's performance of "Bleeders," "Laughing Out Loud" and the effervescent "One Headlight" were all filled with this passionate fervor.

"6th Avenue Heartache" also benefited from the loose nature of the concert setting. The dreamy hit became a showstopping blues-rock number enriched by the use of two keyboardists, including Charles Gillingham of the Counting Crows. Gillingham's wild and spirited style made it easy to wonder how great his own band would have sounded.

The amiable Dylan talked before, during and after songs utilizing his sharp wit and friendly nature. "I see you guys out there with the Mario cards. Are you relatives?" Dylan asked those spelling out "Mario" to gain the attention of Buffalo native, drummer Mario Calire. Dylan later introduced his drummer as Buffalo's "hometown hero."

Dylan shared "Rock 'n' roll rule No. 7: If you run out of hits, play someone else's," as the band started "Tears of a Clown." The group's whimsical nature came across in the country-laced interpretation of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" and a more intimate side was shown in the ballads "I Wish I Felt Nothing" and "Josephine."

"Many years ago, we put out our first release. I think that record still has a shot -- I'm not giving up on it," Dylan said before breaking into the rocking grooves of the lively "Sugarfoot."

The mellow, blues-tinged night changed tempo quickly for an all-out take of "The Difference."

The absence of the Counting Crows was a positive turn for the young alt-rockers That Dog. The Los Angeles band was given an expanded opening slot and performed a 14-song set of their dissonant, guitar-driven music featuring a generous sampling off their third full-length release, "Retreat From the Sun."

The Wallflowers and That Dog.
Rockers carry on after last-minute Counting Crows cancellation.
Thursday evening at Darien Lake.

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