Concert review: Collective Soul w/ Jet Black Roses | 07.11.23, Marion Cultural and Civic Center (with photo gallery)

Photos by Colin Williams and Erica Vining

With twenty-nine years of commercial success in alternative rock, over 1,300 live shows, and eleven studio albums, Collective Soul has perfected the art of showmanship. Performing for sold-out amphitheaters yet humble enough to continue to play small town venues, the band has worked to never forget their modest beginnings. Southeast of St. Louis you’ll find a small Southern Illinois town named Marion, with a population of just 16,855 people. When questioned in a recent interview with The Arts STL why such a massive band would play such a small venue, bassist Will Turpin explained the band’s strategy to plant seeds in outlying communities that will blossom into new fans and even ticket sales for their potential 2024 stadium tour. The band’s extensive 2023 tour kicked off in Cancun this past April and will finish for the year on October 7th in Airway Heights, WA, and thus far has surely cultivated some dedicated seeds already.

Warming up the crowd on this leg of the tour was Georgia-based southern rock band Jet Black Roses. This group is often described as rock n’ roll with country soul and draws inspiration from Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Alan Jackson, and George Strait. Lead vocalist Trey Bentley emits Chris Stapleton vibes alongside his older brother and bassist Andrew and the band’s third founding member, guitarist Tyler Cates. This fresh band offers a familiar nostalgic tune accompanied by jazzy southern riffs and solos. Jet Black Roses remained a trio during the early pandemic and recently added “slide guitarist extraordinaire” Dustin McCook, “UK powerhouse keyboardist” Rich Sherrington, and Mark Cobb on drums (although JBR expresses versality in switching the drummer’s role among the members of the band). Fans were still trickling in during Jet Black Roses’ set, taking their assigned seats only to immediately stand back up and sway along with the rhythm.

The band introduced many original songs from their first studio album Song of a Southern Man, recorded in May of 2022. Jet Black Roses’ ten-song setlist included songs such as “’79 Trans Am,” a track named after the brothers’ father’s first car, with lyrics that incited fond memories of youth in the Marion crowd. They continued to captivate the audience as they carried on playing ballads such as “When the Whiskey Don’t Work,” “Holy Water,” and “Before Our Song was Over.” The latter, an ode to failed relationships, frontman Trey Bentley has described as “for the ones that have had their heart broken and moved on and lived their life—it’s saying you can find hope in heartbreak.” The band closed their set performing title-track “Song of a Southern Man,” with lyrics about the hardships and the rich history of a southern, rural lifestyle. Touring alongside legendary artists such as Styx and Collective Soul, this group has an auspicious future reinvigorating soulful southern rock enthusiasm on the airwaves and streaming services.

Collective Soul took the stage of this quaint and nearly sold out 1,100 seat venue as Ed Roland and his veteran team of rockstars opened the show with their latest hit single “Cut the Cord,” an upbeat, energetic song about Roland’s son leaving the nest. Neither age, nor the humble-sized venue, deterred these professionals from giving the people of Marion a memorable rock show. With an impressive eleven studio albums under their belt, Collective Soul’s 17-song setlist this night only scratched the surface of the content they’ve created over nearly three decades. Never to disappoint, the five-man group covered all their award-winning hit songs such as “Heavy,” “Shine,” and “The World I Know.” Although the band’s sound has evolved along with the rock music industry, Collective Soul’s melodies effortlessly ebbed and flowed through the eras and subgenres of rock music they have played a role in pioneering. As the night progressed, the band played another familiar hit, “December,”during which Ed grabbed his microphone by the stand as he danced and meandered through the audience, doling out high-fives and exchanging brief embraces with starstruck fans. Collective Soul maintained this fever pitch, covering the classic alternative rock song “The One I Love” by R.E.M. along with the members of Jet Black Roses.

Collective Soul leaned on earlier albums during this show and finished strong with three songs from the self-titled album Collective Soul: “Gel,” “Where the River Flows,” and “Run.” Collective Soul continues to pave the way for other ambitious musicians by sharing their spotlight, ideas, and industry connections, which only further cements their legacy in rock music. The people of Marion were left satisfied—with undoubtfully aching feet—but yearning for more from this iconic band that has captivated and inspired many millions of fans throughout the years. | Colin Williams

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