Collective Soul•September 30, 2023•The Union
Reviewed and Photographed by Logan Fang
On September 29th, alternative rock band Collective Soul returned to The Union in SLC for another spectacular performance. It was clear that the Utah audience was enthused to have them back, as the line for admission wrapped around the block well before the concert began. In line, fans buzzed with excitement as they shared memories about the numerous times they had seen Collective Soul live. Despite reaching peak popularity in the 90s, the band clearly has since maintained a loyal fan base here in Utah. Fans sported old merch from past tours and albums, chatting with each other about the first time they saw Collective Soul in Utah. Witnessing the nostalgia that Collective Soul evokes in their fans was a truly heartwarming moment.
Inside the venue, the excitement in the air was palpable. Early arrivals scouted out the best spots to stand for the show, while others huddled around the merch stand selling a variety of Collective Soul souvenirs. Meanwhile, parents gathered in line to purchase different drinks and spirits to kick off the night. As the lights dimmed, the crowd beckoned Collective Soul onto stage with a series of cheers and hollers. In a burst of energy and light, the band then emerged, led by the charismatic frontman, Ed Roland. His flamboyant blazer and bright green pants certainly set the mood for the performance. Surprisingly, his extravagant outfit allowed for quite a bit of mobility, as Roland pranced around the stage striking various poses much to the delight of the audience.
Returning to the mic, Ed launched into the first song of the night “Cut the cord.” Long time fans sang along to this familiar, punchy anthem from the2015 album “See What You Started By Continuing.” After greeting the audience, Collective Soul performed three back to back hits from their late 90s work before performing arguably one of their most iconic pieces, “Shine Down.”
As someone who grew up listening to grunge on my dad’s extensive playlist, I’m familiar with a lot of Collective Soul’s old work. “Shine” was one of those songs that always happened to play on car rides home, so it holds a special place in my heart. Even though the majority of Collective Soul’s work is well before my time, I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic after hearing “Shine” because I grew up listening to songs like these. “Shine” is one of those songs that stand the test of time. From the opening chords, it instantly grabs your attention with its distinctive guitar riff. The intro is simple yet undeniably catchy, setting the stage for the song’s infectious melody and unforgettable chorus. The musical arrangement has a timeless quality that ensures its appeal across generations.
The song doesn’t rely on complex distortion or heavy instrumentation. Instead, it’s built on a solid foundation of catchy hooks, compelling lyrics, and a strong vocal performance. This simplicity is what allows the song’s message to “shine” through so clearly—that is, even to teenagers in the audience like myself. For both seasoned and new Collective Soul fans in the audience, Shine has a kind of universal appeal that makes the song so legendary. It’s a testament to the band’s timelessness and their ability to connect with multiple different generations. I don’t think I’ve seen such disparate age groups in attendance at a concert before.
Throughout the performance, Ed’s stage presence was magnetic. He offered up stories about being the only man to spend a night in Elvis Presley’s bedroom and the numerous friendships he’s cultivated throughout the years. His genuine connection with the audience made the performance feel intimate, despite the venue’s smaller size. Moreover, the dynamic between all the band members was another notable part of the night. Throughout multiple songs, lead guitarist Jesse Triplett commanded the center of the stage with his blistering solos, occasionally joined by bassist Will Turpin.
As the night drew to a close, Collective Soul ended their 16 song set with one of their more emotional tracks, “Run.” Despite never hearing this song before, I was instantly enamored by the song’s raw usage of acoustic strumming and vocals. In contrast to many of their other hits like “December” or “Shine,” “Run” didn’t rely on the same kind of catchy hooks. Being more of an introspective song, “Run” conveys the band’s ability to craft moving and resonant music in addition to powerful rock anthems.
While I anticipated that they would end their set with one of their more notable tracks, I enjoyed the fact that they ended with this selection. Its introspective lyrics and dynamic musical arrangement combine to create an experience that lingers in your mind long after you leave the venue. Collective Soul’s ability to not only create music that lasts, but also reach young audiences like myself is truly unique. Even so, I know that this is not the last time they’ll make a stop here in SLC. The band still has a lot to offer the music world, so I look forward to seeing them live again soon.