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Amphitheatre At Clark County, Ridgefield, WA, USA 10 July 2003

This was the opening event for a new amphitheatre about three hours away from my home in Everett Washington. The amphitheatre is in Ridgefield, about 9 miles north of Portland, Oregon, and was just recently built. On a sidenote before I get to the review, between this venue and the new White River Amphitheater in Auburn, Washington (just south of Seattle), the legendary Gorge in George, WA may be losing a LOT of business...Now, there's no need for those of us in Western WA and Western Oregon to travel over the mountains, where it's way too hot, just to see good concerts. Most of what plays at the Gorge appears to also end up stopping at one of these two new venues.

I have to admit, at first, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this show AT ALL. My wife wanted to go though, and since it's just outside of Oregon, it gave me a chance to visit some relatives and get away for a weekend. I had seen the Counting Crows once before and thought they were just about the worst live act I'd ever seen, even though their CD's are very good. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Counting Crows took the stage at 8:00 PM, and played for about an hour and 10 minutes. They played most of their hits, with a major focus on material off their first album, which was nice because that's my favorite of their 5 releases. They played a few songs from the new CD, Hard Candy, which I have not picked up yet. They played most of the hits including "Mr. Jones", "The Rain King" (of which they did an almost country-sounding version), "Hangin' Around", and "A Long December". Also included were some non-radio tracks from all their albums, as well as a couple very good covers. They played The Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil", one of my favorite Dead tunes. However,their version, musically, was more like the Lyle Lovett version of the song.

They followed that with their current hit, their cover of "Big Yellow Taxi", which is available as a single, as well as on non-US versions of their new CD. The only disappointment for me was that they did not play "'Round Here", probably my favorite song by them. One cool thing was the way they kind of altered the songs. Most of them were done much differently than the were performed on the CD's. Very cool show.

After that, there was about a 35-minute intermission, after which John Mayer took the stage. I'm personally not a huge fan, though I think he has some okay songs. However, I was very impressed with his live performance. He's definitely an artist with more talent than his current CD would lead you to believe.

According to his website, Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of his favorites/biggest influences, and it shows in the solos he plays during his shows. He played just about everything off his current album, "Room for Squares", as well as a couple songs I didn't recognize. There were a lot more solos in the live show than there are on the album. My only complaint was that there was too much volume on the bass player and the drummer, which drowned John and his other guitarist out a few times. But, over all, not a bad show. We were pretty close to the stage, which was nice. Usually, if we sit too far back, people are standing in front of us and Heather has trouble seeing when that happens, so being up fron was nice.

The Clark County Amphitheatre is a great new venue to see shows. If anyone in any of these groups lives here in the great Northwest, it's worth the trip if any of your favorite bands are playing there. The nice thing about this place, that I think other venues around here could learn to do, is that the ticket price also includes your parking space...So, no paying $10-$20 for parking in addition to your ticket price. For anyone in the area who might want to know who's playing there, go to

Some upcoming shows include Ted Nugent with ZZ Top, Jackson Brown, Chicago, Kenny Chesney with Deana Carter and Keith Urban, and many other great shows.

Text © 2003 Wes Cray

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