Monday, September 08, 2008
The Black Crowes blast Edgefield
Last Friday night, my old pal, Andre Danielson and I headed on out to the Edgefield Pub to catch the Black Crowes on tour for their latest album, Warpaint. It was a splendid evening for an outdoor concert, and the venue is such that you can get a good view of the stage from nearly anywhere. It was a general admission show, no advance seating, but the lawn was gently sloped toward the stage so that the people in the back could see over the people in front of them. All in all a good venue, although I don't recommend the food at this or any other McMenamin's establishment.
I've been a fan of the Black Crowes ever since their first album, Shake Your Money Maker was released way back in 1990. The band's fortunes have risen and fallen since then and I've lost track of them for years at a time.
Some controversy surrounded the reception that Warpaint received from the music media when the magazine Maxim wrote a mediocre review of the work without ever having heard the album! (In it's March issue, the publication assigned the album 2.5 stars (out of a possible 5) and wrote that the work "hasn't left Chris Robinson and the gang much room for growth.")
The Crowes were understandably upset about this irresponsible journalism and they issued a scathing press release in response. Maxim later apologized.
So, as yet, I haven't heard the new album. Rather, I went to the show on the strength of the Crowes past as a good down-home rock-and-roll band that puts on a great show. Their sound is reminiscent of the Rolling Stones or the Faces, and that, to me, is just good rock and roll. I had seen them once before, back in the early 90's at Portland's Civic Auditorium and I new that it would be a high-energy event.
This incarnation of the Black Crowes features the band's two founders, brothers Chris (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Rich Robinson (guitar), Luther Dickinson (guitar), Adam MacDougall (keyboards), Sven Pipien (bass), and Steve Gorman (drums). There were also two female backup singers, but I couldn't find their names anywhere. Gorman and the Robinson brothers are the only remaining members of the original lineup, but I'm happy to report that the Crowes still maintain their southern rock, jam band flavor.
The show was high energy and full of the long drawn-out jams that fans of the jam band genre really dig. (Think Allman Brothers, or Phish, or the Grateful Dead, or String Cheese Incident, or Leftover Salmon.) The band opened with some old favorites including "Gone" and "Soul Singing." There was a long middle set where the tempo subsided somewhat while they played material from the new album. Then they finished up with a rousing third set that included a playing of their break-out hit version of the old Otis Redding tune, "Hard to Handle." (Although this was a crowd pleaser, it seemed to both Andre and me that the band was not overly enthusiastic about playing it. I'm sure it gets boring after some 18 years.)
The Crowes came back out for an encore, doing cover versions of the Little Feat tune, "Willin'," and the Band tune, "Don't Do It."
Overall, the band seemed in good spirits, and it was infectious. If you get a chance to see them, I recommend that you do so. They put on a great show, full of exuberance and energy.
Here's a performance from Amsterdam, earlier in the tour: