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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Collective Soul

Live in Beloit, Wi, July, 2005

Review by Lisa Palmeno

Collective Soul first blasted onto the stage in 1994 with their megahit CD Hints Allegations And Things Left Unsaid. This summer's tour marks a decade for them, and the May 24, 2005 release of From The Ground Up has thrust the alternative rock gods back into the limelight. The limelight suited them well Saturday, July 16 at Beloit Riverfest. They gave an hour-and-a-half performance at the main stage, serving up generous helpings of their old and new radio hits. Their live sound is very true to their recordings, and without the techno stuff, everything came out clean and pleasant. Ed Roland's highly-resonant vocals capture the listener's attention; the drummer works overtime; and there are no theatrics, just serious playing.

Brothers Dean and Ed Roland lock in firmly, as do drummer Ryan Hoyle and Bassist Will Turpin. Guitarist Joel Kosche blends perfectly into the fabric of each song. They played "Heavy," which is on a few of their CDs, before Ed Roland said they were going to play some "songs you know and songs you're gonna know, by God. They're off our latest CD." Their use of steady tempos and mellow harmonies give them a unified, relaxing sound that is easy on the ears, without being dubbed "girl music." A highlight of the evening was hearing "Compliment," a soulful song about the loss of innocence and choices. The band's thoughtful arrangements, intelligent lyrics, and skilled playing really breathes life into this song live. Ed Roland picked up a guitar on several selections, showing his versatility as he put his tambourine down.
     
They actually covered The Who's "Squeezebox." The audience dug it. Ed Roland said it was "sing-a-long time, just in case you didn't know those words," referring to "Compliment." Although Roland addressed the audience a few times, there was hardly any chit chat. These guys have enough original material to "keep it real," and they filled the space with music. Turpin's bass solo led into a group performance with Kosche and Dean Roland all huddled in a circle. This proved to cause the only glitch of the evening: They were playing too close one another, and feedback followed. They quickly split up and played the tough-sounding "Gel," followed by "Home." Roland's vocals on Home" are part Bono, part Robin Zander, but totally Ed Roland.
     
The general vibe coming off these guys and their songs seems very pure, very natural. At 10:18, just minutes before the show would end, Roland told the people, "We're not done with you yet." Then came the techno intro to "Why?" Roland did the yeah, yeah" thing with the audience, having all put their hands together.
     
At the end, they put their new biggest song on the table, "Better Now," the chart hit that was used in Wes Craven's movie. There are plans for "Better Now" to be used in a national Kellogg's Special K commercial. When Roland called out, "I love you people," just before stage lights went out, he seemed sincere.For the encore, they gave the fans their first big hit "Shine." It appears that as the song goes, Heaven is still letting its light shine down on Collective Soul: They have their own record label (El Music Group), they are back on the charts, and the fans still love them.
     
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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