London, Brixton Academy 9 April 2008
In many ways this exclusive UK date by the Black Crowes was a gathering of
the tribes and a reaffirmation of a musical lineage that brought together
a capacity crowd comprised of an array of different elements.
There was the class of Donnington '92, still smitten by their introduction
to the band all those years ago, then there were the jam heads for whom
The Crowes, Govt Mule, Dave Matthews, Mississippi All-stars etc, all
represent the essential for the new generation of Dead Heads.
And then there were the older elements upstairs, drawn to the band because
of their vague Stonesy/Faces musical connection – although let's face it,
Chris Robinson may look like a cross between Dave Brock and Arthur Brown
but despite his lithesome dancing and little hand claps, he is uniquely
his own persona and in truth has little to do with Jagger or Stewart!
The upstairs crew would have quietly smiled at the band's spirited
rendition of Delaney & Bonnie's 'Poor Elijah' with Rich Robins on to the
fore on guitar and the fleeting Allman Brothers moments when the twin
guitars coalesced over some cool organ.
Chris Robinson confirmed their feelings of musical deja vu with some
soulful white boy vocals, not quite Greg Allman but close enough. In the
event, this lengthy Crowes set stuck firmly to the tried and tested and
for the most part. Chris eschewed the need for intro's as the band struck
up a succession of familiar numbers each greeted by a knowing roar from
the faithful. And why not?
The recent fiasco of having their 'Warpaint' album negatively reviewed by
a scurrilous magazine scribe who had not even heard the album is enough to
make the most confident of bands re-asses their priorities.
And so it was that the Black Crowes gloriously meandered their way through
their southern tinged roots rock, stretching out and constructing some
impressive grooves on 'My Morning Song', and hitting a momentous peak on
the twin guitar work out of 'Wiser Time' before dredging up the familiar
chords of the blues standard 'Catfish Blues'.
Significantly for a band anchored in the retro but wholly admirable
musical antecedents of the 70's they sounded for all the world like The
Band on the impressive 'Oh Josephine' from 'Warpaint'.
If there's a down side it's the fact that like many of the second
generation jam bands they don't pay enough attention to their set
dynamics. I'm all for value for money but having passed the hour and three
quarter mark we could surely have done without a drum solo that had me
admiring the fabric of the guitarist's individual carpets.
And having impressively jammed impressively on a handful of songs they
didn't really need to deliver more of the same as the set progressed. That
minor quibble aside, on the evidence of this Brixton show The Black Crowes
have settled back in a groove and remain one of the most essential
contemporary retro rockers on the planet!
Review by Pete Feenstra
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