Published on March 16th, 2013 | by Stratton Lawrence0
Review: Crowfield Delivers a Spirited Farewell Show at the Hall
Charleston Music Hall, March 15
Was it solely coincidence that on the day of Crowfield’s final performance, the Performing Arts Center announced a concert by Michael McDonald in October, featuring Crowfield frontman Tyler Mechem as a special guest? Perhaps, but at least Crowfield fans have something to look forward to now that Charleston’s most FM-friendly group has disbanded.
Emotions were thick at the Music Hall on Friday night, and the 750 fans who nearly filled the room loved every second of it. After a seated songwriters set from Luke Cunningham, Ryan Bonner, and John Wesley Satterfield, former Bridge 105.5 DJ and programmer Joel Frank took the stage to gush over his favorite local band. The tribute was fitting — the Bridge and Frank helped to launch Crowfield into a national touring act, based on the strength of Mechem’s pop songwriting sensibilities and the band’s ability to put formulaic structure with fervent build-ups behind them.
After Frank’s exit, the stage went black. Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” blared over the PA. Something epic was about to happen. Crowfield came out with guns blazing, tearing into an opener with the repeated chorus, “You do the talking, I’ll do the time.” After that tune, they immediately brought out former members Joe Giant (piano) and Micah Nichols (guitar), who remained on stage for the rest of the show.
Mechem tore into “Change of Heart,” with its U2 intro and “I would like to kiss you” chorus. The girls swooned. One held up a giant paper heart near the front of the stage that said something about loving Crowfield. Moving their way through the tracks from their final album as a band, The Diamond Sessions, the band brought out a three-piece horn section that included trumpeter Cameron Handel. Giant took a big key solo on “Three Short Words,” and everyone was clearly having fun.
And that’s what really mattered. People will always connect with simple pop music, and if you play it loud and with passion and with solid vocals like Mechem’s, you’ll succeed, at least as much as Crowfield has in their half-decade of semi-fame.
When Mechem told the story of “Break My Heart Tonight,” and how it was written as a device to attract the girl in the crowd who later became his wife, he acknowledged the cheese-factor that goes into writing these songs about relationships, make-ups, and break-ups. He then revealed that they’re expecting a child. A cheer moved through the crowd. Many in attendance then better understood one of the reasons behind Crowfield’s break-up.
“Break My Heart Tonight” ended with the band dropping into a double time-shuffle. Then they slowed it down with a too-long “Hurts Right Here” and picked it up with a super loud song about girls from Carolina with Mechem telling everyone to stand up. The band left the stage when Mechem played “Some How, Some Way” by himself. The whole band returned with the horns for “Catching Up.” It was the first set’s strongest moment. It was big and soaring.
They got quiet, they got loud, they got quiet, they got really loud. The band understood dynamics and knew how to write hit songs.
Perhaps every city has a pop group like Crowfield, but they were ours. Their closest local peer, Needtobreathe, already belongs to the nation. And even though I may roll my eyes at lyrics dripping sap like a maple tree, there’s a place for everything — like up on stage with Michael McDonald. And you better believe … we’ll see you there. Crowfield, you will be missed.
Photos by Stratton Lawrence.
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