On Saturday, September 4, 2021, Collective Soul performed in Salem, Oregon at L. B. Day Amphitheater. A state wide mandate came into effect the day that the state fair opened requiring everyone to wear a mask outdoors when they couldn’t be socially distanced but it didn’t seem to diminish concert attendance. The weather was perfect on Labor Day weekend for the outdoor venue as the evening cooled from the 80 degree daytime temperature. Collective Soul was just beginning to tour again after celebrating their 25 year anniversary tour in 2019 when they released their 10th studio album Blood. The show started early at 7:00 PM and there wasn’t an opening act so the concert started while it was still daylight.
Collective Soul’s debut album Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid went double platinum in the USA and produced the mega hit “Shine” which the band performed in the middle of their set for an extended version featuring the amazing Jesse Triplett on lead guitar. The success of that double platinum album was enough to earn them a slot in the lineup of the 1994 celebration of the 25 year anniversary of the original Woodstock concert. Over the past three decades, the band has continued with its original core comprised of brothers E (Ed) Roland on guitar and lead vocals and Dean Roland on rhythm guitar along with bass player Will Turpin. Guitar player extraordinaire Jesse Triplett filled the lead guitar position with Johnny Rabb driving the beat on his drum kit.
It was obvious that the band was poised to produce an all out effort as they dove into their performance. Collective Soul has always been a guitar driven band and the current convergence between Triplett and the Roland brothers continues that fact. Jesse Triplett is an amazing guitarist who produces the same guitar parts that you are waiting to hear and then some. E Roland sang with a gusto that was infectious as he played a jangly sounding 12 string acoustic guitar while he danced across the stage dressed as if he were a French Marquis prior to the French Revolution.
E Roland encouraged the crowd to love and not forget that we are all in this together even though we may have different opinions. “No one is right and no one is wrong because we all have an opinion.” He talked about how they were from Georgia as he made reference to Georgia music artists that inspired him including Ray Charles, James Brown, the Allman Brothers, and the Indigo Girls. The crowd enthusiastically sang along as the band dove into “The One I Love” by R.E.M., which was featured on Half and Half their 2020 EP release and was more guitar driven than the original version. When the song concluded Roland expressed his love and support of diversity as he called for love and acceptance in keeping with the teachings he learned from his father who was a Baptist minister.
When a band can reproduce complex songs from their albums note for note with occasional embellishments it in no way disappoints. After personally enjoying and listening to Collective Soul since the early 1990s this writer appreciated the opportunity to finally witness a live performance of the band. The set was nearly 90 minutes long and included a total of 14 songs which featured “Who Loves” a new song that should be on the band’s next album.
The song choices were a mix that included cuts from 6 of their 10 studio albums with the Blue Album (Eponymous) providing the most songs with “December,” “The World I Know,” “Gel” and “Where the River Flows.” “December” like many of the songs had a guitar jam between Turpin and the two Roland brothers that hit stratospheric levels. Johnny Rabb’s steady driving drum beat coupled with Will Turpin’s throbbing bass on “Precious Breakdown” from 1997’s Disciplined Breakdown resulted in the crowd dancing to the point that security had to admonish attendees not to block the aisles or stand on the seats. The crowd sang along on a number of the songs both with and without E Roland encouraging them. The concert concluded with “Run” from 1999’s Dosage album and afterward band members hugged each other and bowed as they said goodnight and expressed their love to the crowd.