Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, and Tonic Treasure Island Event Center – Welch, MN – 12/18/2021
Review and photos by Kate Klaus
90s rockers Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, and Tonic joined forces for a lively and entertaining night of music at the Treasure Island Event Center on December 18th, 2021. Opening up the night were Los Angeles based alt-rockers Tonic, who took the stage and asked the crowd if they were ready to rock, which was emphatically answered with cheers. The original trio of Emerson Hart (vocals/guitar), Jeff Russo (lead guitar) and Dan Lavery (bass) were joined by touring drummer Pete Maloney, and it was evident that this original lineup had all of the energy and connection, bringing life to favorites “If You Could Only See” and “You Wanted More”. Their set delivered a positive rock energy that would carry on through the night.
Up next was Better Than Ezra, New Orleans based alt-rock band, fittingly opened up their set with the hit “King of New Orleans”. The original duo of Kevin Griffin (lead vocals/guitar) and Tom Drummond (bass guitar/backing vocals) was joined by James Arthur Payne Jr. on keyboard and guitar and former Toadies drummer Michael Jerome (who has been with Better Than Ezra since 2009). Griffin made a special a reference of his admiration for the impact of Minnesotan artists on the music scene, mentioning many artists from Prince and The Revolution, to Soul Asylum, Gear Daddies, and Husker Du. Continuing with this, they added a special cover of “When Doves Cry” onto the end of their hit “Desperately Wanting”, before launching into crowd favorite “Good”. Always with smiles on their faces, they transported the crowd back to the rocking and yet feel-good songs and times of their classic hits.
Closing the night, Collective Soul took the stage with boundless energy and dynamism. Lead singer Ed Roland dashed onto the stage in a characteristic wild outfit, including a vividly patterned suit paired with a green scarf and Gucci bucket hat. Joined by original members Dean Roland (Ed’s brother – rhythm guitar) and Will Turpin (bass), as well as Johnny Rabb on drums and Jesse Triplett on lead guitar and backing vocals, they opened up with “Who Loves” to the crowd who matched the energy brought by Ed Roland and instantly were on their feet and dancing. Mid-set when they performed crowd-favorite “Shine” they took a moment at the end of the song to repeat the chorus and asked for the crowd to sing along, a capella, with the band. It was a beautiful moment of the unity that concerts are so good at delivering, and as he followed it up with a few words about the current state of the world and frustrations associated with pandemic-life and disconnect, while stating that we need to work to re-connect and find new ways to continue to live life fully, it was a perfect lead into poignant classic “The World I Know”. Every aspect of their performance, from Triplett’s riveting guitar solos, to the camaraderie between Turpin, the Roland brothers, and Triplett, to Ed’s uninhibited dance moves and energy, delivered an unforgettable end to the evening of great rock that was every bit as energetic, passionate, and entertaining of their shows from 25+ years ago.