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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

Album review


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