When a venue is dubbed “The Mother Church” and “The Carnegie Hall of the South,” you know the show is going to be high quality. When you throw Collective Soul and Switchfoot in there, you know it is going to be excellent!
Built in 1892, but home to “Grand Ole Opry” from 1943 – 1974 (until it was moved to a larger building), the Ryman is known for its fantastic sound and lack of a bad seat. Artists feel as if they have truly “made it” when they grace the Ryman stage for the first time.
Starting off the night and making his Ryman debut was singer/songwriter David Archibald from Edinburgh, Scotland. While his Scottish accent was thick as he spoke, you could not hear it at all as he sang, which fascinated me to no end. As he started his set, he said, “This is a dream come true [to play here]. I will play some songs and you won’t have to worry about trying to understand me.” His heartfelt songs were all wonderful and the crowd was encouraging and clapping along.
S W I T C H F O O T
San Diego’s Switchfoot came out rocking and the crowd’s energy shot up immediately! They started off with “Take My Fire” and Jon Foreman (vocals, guitar), Tim Foreman (bass, Jon’s brother), and Boaz Roberts (guitar) were jumping, running, and greeting fans at the front of the stage while Chad Butler (drums) and Jerome Fontamillas (keyboards) manned their stations.
As they went into “Stars,” front-man Jon Foreman jumped into the crowd and greeted fans as he sang. With no pit area at the venue, the audience can be up against the front of the stage, which also made it easy for Foreman to descend into the crowd more than once over the evening. His excitement was contagious and as he said “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, y’all!” the fans seemed just as excited to be there. Throughout the night, he spoke to the crowd, even one on one where he would ask their name and have the entire room say hello to that person, and made it seem like an evening get together of friends.
“I’m going to go back in time to 1995, and some of y’all weren’t around in 1995. I’m going to be the kid who has yet to graduate from high school. Yet to drop out of college. If you tell me that I’m on tour with one of my favorite bands, Collective Soul… (crowd cheers). So it’s my humble opinion that the ‘90s are my favorite era of hip hop, so we’re going to play a song from the 1900s.” The crowd appreciated the joke (I too enjoy saying I was born in the 1900s) and the band launched into a kick-ass Beastie Boys cover of “Sabotage.”
Once again, Foreman went into the crowd for “Bull in a China Shop” and handled not only climbing over the pew seating, but singing and playing the harmonica while working his way through the audience.
He also spoke about the difficulty of 2020 and how they were unsure if they would do shows again, which inspired the next song, “If I Were You,” their first single from their 2021 album, “Interrobang.”
Foreman introduced each band member and talked about the first time they met Collective Soul front-man Ed Roland; he paid for their sushi and they sat at restaurant for two hours waiting on the bill, only to find out he had already paid it. Then, the night before this show, Roland gave Foreman a nifty instrument ukulele, or as he joked, two-kulele. With all of the members of Switchfoot gathered around said “two-kulele,” they did an acoustic version on “Hello Hurricane.” Midway through the song, Foreman said playing in Nashville meant they should honor some area musicians, so they did a medley of snippets from “Jolene” (Dolly Parton), “Mean” (Taylor Swift), “Someone Like You” (Kings of Leon), “Mirrors” (Justin Timberlake), “Wrecking Ball” (Miley Cyrus), and “A Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin). At “Natural Woman,” Foreman laughed and said, “I don’t know where to go from that!” but was able to move to “Tennessee Whiskey” (David Allan Coe) and “Ring of Fire” (Johnny Cash) to wrap it up. There was a bit of craziness as Roland ran out to hug them and then the band Colony House joined them onstage to finish up “Hello Hurricane.”
After releasing “bubbles from California” during “Float,” and having guest vocalist Jade Jackson during “I Won’t Let You Go,” Switchfoot played “Where I Belong” with such intensity, they received a standing ovation and the crowd thought it was the end. But, hey, they still had their two big hits left!
“Meant to Live” included the crowd singing the chorus as loud as the band, and “Dare You to Move” was lit by the audience’s phones, and closed with another standing ovation as the band bowed goodnight.
Throughout the set, Switchfoot truly seemed to enjoy playing together, plus they interacted with their fans and brought an energy that made me come home and check their tour schedule for when I could see them again. They will hit Anaheim in December, so definitely a must see!
The energy level remained high until Collective Soul burst onto the stage with front-man Ed Roland wearing one of his crazy matching suits and a shiny helmet. His sense of humor was apparent right away as he jokingly poked audience members at the front of the stage during their first song, “Cut the Cord.” The song comes from their album “Vibrating,” which was just released last month. Originally planned to drop in 2020, the album was worth the wait as it topped multiple charts upon its release.
When the familiar riff to “Heavy” was heard – with that iconic channel switch beginning – the crowd jumped up to dance and sing. It also included the first of several amazing guitar solos from Jesse Triplett – seriously, that dude is awesome! Actually, the entire band was awesome; in addition to Roland and Triplett, Collective Soul includes Dean Roland (guitar, Ed’s brother), Will Turpin (bass), and Johnny Rabb (drums). Yes, Switchfoot and Collective Soul feature brothers!
After removing his helmet for “All Our Pieces,” Roland went to the piano for the beginning of “Shine,” which was another fan favorite. While Roland was very happy and joking though the show, he has an air of authority about him. When he demanded we all stand up for the song, we all stood up! During the “Yea!” portion of “Shine,” the crowd took over singing duties and the sound rocked the Ryman. At one point, Roland stopped the song, looked at the crowd, and just smiled, appreciatively holding his heart.
I have tried to think of the right words to describe Roland as a front-man and I can’t really do him justice. He’s got some early Elvis dance moves in there, a little psychedelic rocker, he utilizes his mic stand almost like a dance partner, has an unmatched style, alternates between commanding and nurturing. I still don’t think that describes him, so you’ll have to see him for yourself!
When “Shine” was finished with an epic drum solo, it felt like a finale of a show with the amount of applause and cheering. Roland basked in the appreciation and greeted the crowd, stating he lost a bet, so he had to wear the helmet. He thanked the other bands and said, “We are a 29-year-old band and we are still rocking, all thanks to you people. We are going to go back 20 years for this song.”
They kicked off “Better Now” and Roland walked the stage and waved to every corner of the room, making everyone feel welcome. Triplett had another fantastic solo that had him moving across the stage and dancing without missing a note.
Roland introduced the band and said he was so happy to see people’s faces again after the past few years: “I’m not smart or political, but that was weird!” He talked about making music during the forced time off the road – three albums worth; including one they were able to record at Elvis Presley’s Palm Springs home! He said, “I wrote a protest song….No I didn’t!” which drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd. But he explained he had appreciation for a particular songwriter who wrote about things without taking a side, and then alone on stage, sang “Bob Dylan Where Are You Today” with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica.
The band rejoined him for “The World I Know,” which had the crowd singing along loudly, and then they gave an impromptu performance of “She Said,” which Roland admitted was not on the set list. Another unplanned moment occurred when they started playing “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson, which included me looking quizzically at photographer Stephanie, and her telling me what song it was without me asking. Thank you once again, Stephanie.
Roland talked about the band’s Atlanta origins and other bands from the area. He said one band in particular “opened a lot of doors for bands like them” and they did a very nice cover of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love,” which included Switchfoot’s Foreman joining them to make it a duet.
A musical interlude jam session preceded “December,” which was of course another crowd favorite, as were “Gel” (Yes! Forgot how awesome this song is!) and “Where the River Flows.” The hit after hit had the crowd on their feet as they felt the evening winding down.
At this point, Roland addressed the crowd, “This is the part of the night where we give thanks.” After he thanked all the previous bands and their crew (“the people that make the dream happen”), he said thank you to the fans: “It’s a dream we live and we will continue to live thanks to you good people.”
Collective Soul closed their set with “Run” to an enthusiastic crowd and deserved the standing ovation they received. The musicians are all top notch, Roland is entertaining and engaging, the “old” songs have stood the test of time, while the new songs rock.
Their current tour ends this month, but it sounds like they want to keep on rolling, so keep an eye on their tour schedule to catch them near you soon!