Listen, Learn, and Love.
Collective Soul spreads a message of kindness and compassion during their headlining show Wednesday night.
Photos and Words: Madeline Rheaume
The lights go up, the band steps out, the crowd cheers.
There wasn't a beat missed during the spirited and lively opening songs. Four of which I spent in the pit, photographing the uncaged epicness that was the stage presence of Collective Soul. The band opened with “Observation of Thoughts” a track off of their latest record titled “BLOOD”. Followed by “Heavy”, and “Why, Pt. 2”.
Below the balcony, the audience was electric, cheering and dancing as frontman Ed Roland began to sing the opening verses to their hit song “Shine”. The crowd only got louder during the band's performance of their 1995 classic song “December”.
Ed Roland danced the most, up and down the stage, greeting the entire venue with peace signs and handshakes. He then took a moment to pause and allowed the crowd to cheer back. His gratitude came out in his face, smiling almost every moment he wasn't focused on singing, playing his guitar, or the piano.
Invigorating and inspiring the band brought so much passion and excitement into the building, it was contagious. Nothing that evening was static. Not only was there plenty to be entertained by on stage, but the audience was also included through beat-keeping and vocal accompaniment during “Better Now”:
“The world's done shaking
The world's done shaking
The world's done shaking me down”
“Over Me” brought along one of the most thrilling guitar solos that I’ve ever heard. Jesse Triplette held his own. Performed live this song is truly epic.
Most memorable from the evening were the moments between groups of songs, where Ed would take a break and tell a story, or rally the crowd with a chant. We listened as he told the audience how beautiful Portland is, and how welcoming the people in it are. Ending his praise with what I believe to be the most heartwarming compliment “you can just be yourself”.
He went on to express his gratitude. In Ed's own words, the night was a celebration, and it really felt like it. Not just a celebration for 25 years of Collective Soul, but for life, family, friendship.
Before going on to play the ballad “Porch Swing” during the latter half of the show, Ed began talking about where he came from, his inspiration from the band Styx, and how he saw what was possible even when you’re from a small town in the south. “Porch Swing” stays with Ed as a favorite, because Styx frontman Tommy Shaw himself contributed to the track.
A few songs and a cover of R.E.Ms “The One I Love” later, Ed began spitting straight facts.
“Everybody wants to blame everybody.” He told the audience. “Stop.”
“It's okay to disagree. It really is, it's okay.”
A prompt connection between forcing everyone to have the same opinion and cattle being shipped off to slaughter was made.
“What we need to do it we need to listen. I don't give a fuck what side you’re on. We all have something to learn.
But at the end of the day…Fucking love each other.”
He then rallied the crowd with the chant
The louder the chant got in the building, the deeper the words hit home.
There's nothing like a live concert to remind you what matters. And that energy from the body, mind, and soul can be presented through song.
The band closed the set with “Run”. It was a bittersweet way to end the show. They made their exit with the audience just as involved as when they made their entrance. Shaking hands and allowing the crowd to serenade them off the stage with the lyrics “Have I got a long way to run” while Ed played the closing melody on his guitar on loop.
Collective Soul left us with a performance that we’ll never forget, and a message that too many of us don't always remember.