- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

If it’s true that only the great bands make remarkable CDs sound even better live, Copeland does not make the cut.

At the 9:30 Club Tuesday night, the four-man band illustrated the inconvenient truth that a few awesome songs do not a good concert make.

The show relied heavily on the band’s new album, “In Motion,” which was released March 22. The beauty of “In Motion” lies in the group’s tight harmonies and frontman Aaron Marsh’s falsetto.

In concert, both those harmonies and the falsetto disappeared.

So what happened?

The band left the recording studio, that’s what.

The result was very raw and very emo. It was the guy-with-guitar-crying-alone-in-the-dark sound — except Mr. Marsh had a bassist, guitarist and drummer to assist him in his anguish.

There is nothing wrong with improvising in concert. But when the live performances differ so vastly from the CD that the audience can’t sing along, something needs to change.

Either that, or your name had better be Bob Dylan.

Opening with “In Motion’s” “Pin Your Wings,” Copeland followed with the love song “Take Care” from its 2003 album “Beneath the Medicine Tree” and the conspicuously harmony-less “Love Is a Fast Song,” also from “In Motion.”

Of the 13 songs, just six were from “Beneath the Medicine Tree,” leaving fans who hadn’t bought the new disc a little lost and clueless.

“No One Really Wins,” an upbeat yet angst-driven breakup song, generated a mild audience response during the show. It wasn’t until the set was over and the band succumbed to several halfhearted “one more song” requests that the crowd really got into it. For the encore, the band played the tried and true “Priceless” from its 2003 album.

When Dylan refashions songs beyond recognition in concert, it’s not because he can’t reproduce the studio versions live. It’s because he won’t.

The lesson for Copeland is clear: If you want your fans to like your concerts, record music that can be performed live without sacrificing what makes it good.

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