Collective Soul and DeGraw at Spirit Bank Center

Spirit Bank Event Center played host to a superb night of entertainment on Tuesday as Collective Soul, Gavin Degraw and opener Green River Ordinance took to the stage with a show built for just about any type of music genre.

I missed Green River, unfortunately, but heard great feedback from people in the crowd about this up and coming band from Texas.

In the setup time between GRO and Collective Soul, the arena was a buzz with young and old concert goers alike, which gave the night a strange but appealing look.  Regardless of music preference, it was a show that had rock and pop fans uniting under one banner to spend a fun-filled, groove heavy night together.

Since this writer is a fan of Collective Soul and because I have performed their music in a few of my own bands, seeing them was a real treat.
As the main arena lights went out and the band slowly made their way onto the stage, red led strip lights topped with blinding spots came on–aimed at the crowd.

Ed Rowland (Lead Singer) of Collective Soul suddenly appeared and shouted in the microphone, “Welcome to all of you!” and began a blistering set of new and classic CS hits of which they have seven #1 records.

The band was in great form playing heavy guitars and thundering drum lines.  I had forgotten how much these guys really do rock.

When they came out in the early-mid 90’s, they received heavy rotation on local mainstream and alt rock radio. They somehow managed to rotate out of that area into adult, mainstream contemporary markets.

There are as many bands these days that are indefinable. In my opinion, Collective Soul has moved into that category.

Rowland danced with his microphone stand much of the night, a little distracting at times, looking like the ala Adam Ant “Room at the Top” video. Yet, he did have a great deal of swagger and stage presence.

He made comment of being a fan of 80’s music groups The Police, The Cars, U2 and INXS, the last two of which he did have a great likening to the front men of.  (Very Bono-esque in his approach to mic and stand with a hint of Michael Hutchence.)

His comment led into the newer song “Hollywood.”  All of the hits were there, “December,” “Gel,” “Heavy,” and “The World I Know.”  Each were met with enthusiasm from the crowd, which sang back and at times served as “the lead singer of Collective Soul.”

The band left the stage for a brief break and returned for encore numbers, two of which were “Where the River Flows” and probably the band’s best know song and first ever single, “Shine.”  This ended a fantastic set of very hard rocking and mid-tempo songs that had many people in awe of the band and their show.

After a brief time of tear down and setup for Gavin Degraw, the lights went out again and the drummer came onto the stage–very much a modern looking musician with his nicely fitted cliché vest and tie.

He climbed onto the riser and took his place upon his throne, where he began drumming up a tremendous beat. He was soon joined by the bass and lead guitarists as Gavin came strolling onto the stage, taking his place behind a black baby grand piano.

“How is everyone tonight?”  “Are you ready to have some fun tonight?” Both questions were met with screams and applause from the crowd.

I must admit I have no real knowledge of DeGraw. Honestly, I had to use Pandora radio on an iPhone to hear any of his music.

I am not really a Top 40 listener, so this was a new artist to me.  That being said it is easy to see why Gavin DeGraw is one of the rising stars in the new crop of singers and songwriters that are emerging in the industry these days.

He quickly had the audience eating out of his hand with catchy lyrics and groove laden tunes.

He and his band are quite an entertaining and likable group.  They had great interaction with the crowd and even poked fun at Kenny Chesney at one point when DeGraw got up from the piano and was surprised at how tight his jeans were.

Making mention that he “thought he was wearing some Kenny Chesney jeans there for a second,” DeGraw moved from sitting behind his piano to playing guitar and using his mic, all with great ease and fluidity.

He took his time when speaking to the crowd, telling stories about the different songs he did.  As the evening grew, the tempo did as well and his songs followed suit.

A drawing showman and solid songwriter, it’s evident that DeGraw has a very bright future ahead of him.

The only downside that I can see to this show was the venue.  It was not very crowded and the show did not seem to be marketed very well.

Tulsa Today was in a holding pattern, waiting to interview DeGraw for an exclusive preview when it was cancelled at the last minute, due to his schedule demands. Even so, we did manage to provide a brief preview for DeGraw and Collective Soul the day of the event as there was little else to mark the coming of this band.

With a new arena that is not quite a year old and the musical history of Tulsa, I guess I would expect to see more energy put into luring people and big name acts to the Spirit Bank Event Center, which is an area that has outstanding restaurants and clubs just ripe for a great partnership.

I hope in the future this will come to fruition, helping to make for a fantastic venue.