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Former Live frontman celebrates two decades of ‘Throwing Copper’

It’s been six years since Ed Kowalczyk walked away from his multiplatinum-selling band Live and embarked on a solo career. 

On Friday night, Kowalczyk paid a visit to Niagara Falls, where he sold out the Bear’s Den inside Seneca Niagara Hotel and Casino as part of the latest leg of his “Throwing Copper” 20th anniversary celebration. 

Clad in black jeans, gray T-shirt, and black jacket, were it not for his graying beard, the 47-year-old rocker looked scantly different than the 27-year-old who took the music world by storm with “Throwing Copper” in the mid-1990s. 

Hardcore fans of the band’s second album were in for a treat, as shortly after gliding to the microphone, Kowalczyk announced he was going to play the iconic “Copper” in its entirety and in order. 

What did that mean for the crowd? There was no wondering if your favorite track was going to make the cut. No fretting over whether you would have to wait for an encore to hear, “I Alone,” or if “Lightning Crashes” would get passed over.  

Likewise, if you were hoping for one of the album’s lesser-known tracks, say, my personal favorite, “Waitress,” or the album’s hidden track, “Horse,” you could sit back, relax, and soak it all in, which the appreciative crowd did. 

Accompanied by guitarist Zak Loy, Kowalczyk embarked on a 90-minute trek down memory lane, and along the way, left no doubt as to the strength and soul in his vocals that drove more than eight million album sales of “Copper.” 

Like all acoustic shows, Kowalczyk was at his best when he was telling stories and working the intimate crowd.

He recalled, with a smile, record executives telling him that “Lightning Crashes” would never work. 

“I remember thinking, once it was recorded, I really hope people get to hear this song, because it’s my favorite,” he told the audience. “But they told me it was five and a half minutes long and took too long to get to the chorus. Well ... ” 

But his line of the night came when introducing “White, Discussion,” a song he said was his take on the end of the world. 

“I like the world just fine, but I like songs about the end of it,” he said. 

After ripping through all 14 tracks from “Copper,” Kowalczyk and Loy returned for an encore in which he roused the crowd to its feet and tore into “Lakini’s Juice,” from the band’s 1997 album, “Secret Samadhi.”

Though he started off a bit timid, by mid-show, Kowalczyk was singing in the crowd, imploring the faithful to join in on the chorus of his best-known songs, and offering up engaging, funny takes on an album that, like a fine wine, has gotten better with age.

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