Collective Soul may have a 1990s alt-rock pedigree.
But when they took the stage at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Oct. 1, they loudly demonstrated that their music is not a museum exhibit tied to a particular rock and roll era or genre.
Plain and simple, they rocked Fairfield County, no sub-category necessary.
From the start, the band from Atlanta, Ga.– lead singer E Roland, rhythm guitarist Dean Roland, bassist Will Turpin, drummer Johnny Rabb and lead guitarist Jesse Triplett- slashed and burned across the stage in this refurbished high school auditorium.
E Roland drew generously from the lead singer playbook. He was the occasional shaman. He was the occasional charismatic and benevolent prince. And he occasionally was a bit of a goofball (specifically, when he explained how he met his wife).
Triplett’s and Roland’s periodic twin lead guitar moments were incendiary, drawing from the template of the Allman Brothers, who also found their origins in the state of Georgia (Macon to be exact). When he was handed the keys to the lead for a ride by himself, Triplett easily helped propel the tracks to a higher ground.
And Rabb and Turpin drove the rhythms like a finally tuned race car.
Guided by this musical arsenal, songs such as Collective Soul’s hits “Shine,” “Gel,” and “Where the River Flows,” crunched and munched in classic rock style – far outpacing their alt-rock origins.
The highlight of the evening came about four songs in to the set list when the group performed the previously mentioned “Shine.” As soon as the opening notes sounded, the crowd, which slowly had been migrating to their feet, finally leapt up as one. The energy brought by the fans to the show, clearly boosted the band’s performance as E Roland took command of the crowd.
There were some moments when the tempo slowed down, where the audience took a break and settled back into their seats. But, for most of the show, the fabric seats in the auditorium barely had time to warm up underneath any fannies as the crowd opted to stand through most of the show.
Another highlight of the evening was when Collective Soul stepped out of their catalogue and thumbed through the catalogue of another little Georgia group by the name of R.E.M. Tackling R.E.M.’s “The One I Love,” Collective Soul showed off their musical skills as well as offered some more lessons about the genetic code that runs through all rock and roll.
There was plenty of energy crackling throughout the whole evening. Collective Soul, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, seems to be having as much fun in 2019 as they did when they released their debut album,” in 1994.
I give Collective Soul at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Oct. 1 4 out of 5 stars.