With clear skies and cooler temperatures, the weather this past weekend in the Carolinas was absolutely gorgeous. You couldn’t ask for it to get any better in late August and rock fans took advantage of it by packing the Heritage Park Ampitheatre in Simpsonville for one of the hottest tours of the summer as the Rock and Roll Express Tour roared into town. The tour features co-headliners Collective Soul and 3 Doors Down as well as the opening band, Soul Asylum.

 

Kicking things off was the alternative rock of Soul Asylum led by lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Pirnen. The band sounded tight as they played a short but solid set under Carolina blue skies. Pirnen’s vocals sounded great as the band ran through a set list heavy on songs from their 1992 “Grave Dancers Union” album including their hit single “Runaway Train.” The standout performance of the set came from guitarist Ryan Smith who was all over the stage, running and jumping, and jamming with Pirnen. It was a perfect way to begin an incredible night of music.

 

The Georgia rockers Collective Soul were up next and what a performance they gave. Led by frontman Ed Roland, the band put on a highly entertaining set that was not only pleasing to the ears but also to the eyes. They had some beautiful lighting and changing LED screens that went along with the music. Sonically, they sounded amazing. If you closed your eyes, you would think you were back in the nineties. These guys have not lost a single step over the years and seem to have the magical formula to keep them young. It must be the music! Guitarists Jesse Triplett and Dean Roland were on fire with Johnny Rabb pounding away behind the kit and Will Turpin keeping the bass lines grooving. Ed is a consummate showman, using his microphone stand as an accessory, swinging it, swaying it, and even using it as a giant pogo stick to hold on to as he jumped up and down. The band played all the favorites that you would expect to hear with Ed taking his spot behind the piano for a beautiful live version of “Shine.” The set list featured four songs from their 1995 self-titled album, also known as the Blue Album as well as some new tunes. I particularly enjoyed “Right as Rain,” a new song that fits right in with all the classics. Roland took a few moments throughout the set to thank the audience and preach a little love and understanding which made for a positive, upbeat atmosphere. Their sound runs the gamut from heavy rockers like “Where the River Flows” to more sublime songs like “The World I Know” and a little bit of everything in between. They put on one hell of a show and set a pretty high bar for anyone to follow.

 

After a brief intermission, it was time for 3 Doors Down to get things rocking and they did just that starting things off with “Duck and Run.” Greg Upchurch’s drums were on a riser center stage as guitarists Chet Roberts and Chris Henderson made their appearance on a set of LED risers at the rear of the stage. Bassist Justin Biltonen was swinging his bass and running from left to right as lead vocalist Brad Arnold took his spot center stage. An American flag was positioned stage right and was lit by a single spotlight. Their set was literally hit after hit after hit with “Citizen/Soldier” getting extra attention from the southern, patriotic crowd in attendance. Highlights of the night included an endearing cover of “In America” from the Charlie Daniels Band and rousing versions of “Loser” and “Kryptonite” to close out the evening. After a short break, the band returned for a two song encore that was full of passion and soul with the heartrending “Here Without You” and “When I’m Gone.”

 

It was a perfect night of soulful rock and roll in Simpsonville with top notch performances from all three bands and memories that would last forever. Don’t miss your chance to see this tour before the Rock and Roll Express leaves the station.

 

Collective Soul Set List:

 

Now’s The Time

Over Me

Shine

Heavy

Why, Pt. 2

Better Now

Precious Declaration

December

Right as Rain

Observation of Thought

The World I Know

Gel

Where the River Flows

Run

 

3 Doors Down Set List:

 

Duck and Run

Time of My Life

It’s Not My Time

Away From the Sun

Let Me Go

Going Down in Flames

The Road I’m On

Be Like That

Citizen/Soldier

Still Alive

In America (The Charlie Daniels Band cover)

Behind These Eyes

My Way

Loser

Kryptonite

 

Encore:

 

Here Without You

When I’m Gone

Photo Gallery

CS5

 

 

We would like to thank Kim Shiver from Live Nation for the credentials to review the show.

About The Author Kris Engelhart

I am a small business owner, freelance writer, and part-time piano instructor in Charlotte, NC. My musical career started at the age of five when I was forced into taking piano lessons. I played flute in the school band and added the guitar as a young teen. There is nothing I would rather do than be at a live show. My first concert was Shaun Cassidy at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo in 1978. My top five live shows ever are: 1. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY 1984- They played for 3 ½ hours and it was awesome. 2. Carolina Rebellion- Metrolina Expo Grounds, Charlotte, NC, May, 2011 – The first ever Carolina Rebellion featured over 15 bands with Avenged Sevenfold headlining. Non-stop music for over 12 hours. 3. Chevelle- Food Lion Speed Street, Charlotte, NC, May, 2008 - The first time I ever saw Chevelle live and I was hooked! 4. Skillet with Red- Bojangle’s Coliseum, Charlotte, NC, April, 2010 – Skillet is one of my favorite bands and they totally kick it live. 5. 106.5 The End’s Weenie Roast #9- Verizon Wireless Amiptheater, Charlotte, NC , October, 2003- Featured Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace.