Monday, August 30, 2010

Murat Theater - Indianapolis, Indiana - 8.25.10

The Black Crowes
Murat Theater
Indianapolis, Indiana
August 25, 2010

- Acoustic Set -
Jealous Again
Hotel Illness
Whoa Mule
Girl From A Pawnshop
Drivin' Wheel
Better When You're Not Alone            
Oh Josephine
Thorn In My Pride

- Electric Set -
Soul Singing
Sting Me
Another Roadside Tragedy
Wiser Time
My Morning Song
Let Me Share The Ride
She Talks To Angels
Twice As Hard
- encore -
Ain't No More Cane On The Brazos
Hard To Handle

Back to the Double Stacker Slacker Special with a stop in Indianapolis tonight.  What's a Double Stacker Slacker Special you ask?  Well, it's not a caloric gut bomb from Burger King and no, it's not a Pancake Cheesecake Sandwich from IHOP.  The Double Stacker Slacker Special is a 3-hour, two set evening of Black Crowes music that makes doing nothing all day on a Wednesday suddenly feel like a successful and productive day.  

Starting off quick on the acoustic side, Remedy and Jealous Again took care of business right out of the gate, hushing anyone who only came to hear the hits.  They'd get a few more later in the evening but were instantly sated tonight in Indy.  After those two started things off, some hand drumming from Steve and some mellow harp from Chris brought in Whoa Mule, which in Swahili is often described as wimbo sheshe.  In English, that roughly translates as "a really good song."  Feel free to use that phrase to describe a variety of Black Crowes songs if you'd like.  Next time you're at a show and they play one you like, turn to the person next to you, say "wimbo sheshe" and see if they don't smile and nod in approval.  

Next were two tunes that we're guessing were inspired by females.  Girl From a Pawnshop was around in one form or another in late '91 and popped up in Who Killed That Bird Out On Your Window Sill with Rich strumming it between takes during the Southern Harmony sessions.  Nonfiction showed up on August 31, 1992 on High As The Moon for the first time in the bridge between Thorn's Progress and Thorn In My Pride.  Lyrical evolution took place and it went full electric eventually, but the first time most people discovered it was on this episode of Saturday Night Live on December 12, 1992.  Video of the Nonfiction performance is nowhere to be found online, so you may have to refer to your own personal collection if you want to see it again.

Next came Drivin' Wheel, also known as Lost My Drivin' Wheel, which is a tough one to track on Crowesbase.   All we know is it doesn't get played enough.  Incidentally there are three songs the band has performed with the word "wheel" in the title.  Can you name the other two?  Spoiler alert -->  The answer is...The Flying Burrito Brothers' Wheels and Jerry Garcia's The Wheel.  Technically, The Wheel was only performed during the BOAF tour and not with the full band.  And there was also a movie made about Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney called Heart Like a Wheel but that has nothing to do with The Black Crowes.  

*Editor's note:  We neglected to mention the fourth "wheel" song in the band's repertoire - This Wheel's On Fire - written by Dylan and Danko, which has seen two full band performances.  Thank you to Bolshevik for pointing out our error.

Speaking of songs that don't get played enough, don't look now but Better When You're Not Alone finally popped up for the first time in almost two years.  The last time it was brought out of storage was also in acoustic form in '08 at the second Town Hall show in New York.  Once a staple of the Three Snakes tour, this tune sort of sneaked off into the shadows in recent years and now gets brought out sporadically with Rich on the acoustic 12-string.  If you were at the Fillmore on August 10, 2005 or at the House of Blues in Cleveland on July 29, 2008 then you were probably pretty pleased to hear it.

Closing down the first set were Oh Josephine and a 12-minute Thorn, with an electric set to follow that seemed to please just about everyone but a few diehards at home judging things on paper.  Another Roadside Tragedy had an inspired jam that just kept going and going before melting down into Wiser Time.  Morning Song rocked faces off per its usual self, then Feathers floated down and Share the Ride blew in toward the end before reminding everyone to take it easy.

She Talks to Angels and Twice As Hard wound down the festivities and gave a lot of people plenty of opportunities to sing along and annoy anyone lucky enough to be standing near them.  Tapers have been known to throw elbows at these people...and while you can't really get mad at somebody for having a good time, once they start singing lyrics off key at the top of their lungs within 5-7 feet of the taper's rig, all bets are off.  Check out this old photo from a Dead show circa 1984 at the Berkeley Community Theatre (as was pointed out by one of our blog readers, T.  thank you!) ...see those tapers and the people around them and how happy everyone is?  Sure, there could be several reasons for that (it could be because this was the first time the Dead had given the tapers their own again provided by T.) but I bet at least part of it was because everyone in this little area was on the same page with the tapers.  Different times I suppose.  Definitely a different crowd.

So...there wasn't anything that fell under the category of rare and unreleased songs tonight other than Feathers - which if we're being honest was actually released on the '95 Horde sampler cd and got enough playing time in '08-'09 to be moved up a notch from "rarely played" to "occasionally played" status - so while it was a solid evening, the hardcore freaks probably won't be ranking this setlist in the top five by the time we reach mid-December.  Ain't No More Cane returned from a one year absence and Hard to Handle finished off the night, which will now be summed up by the following people...

I was surprised to see the lower section of the theater only 1/2 full when TBC started, but that didn't keep them from putting on a stellar show.  The best song of the night for me was Better When You're Not Alone. I had never heard this live before and it was smokin'.

That's one.  Here's another...

The acoustic set was great, Remedy and Jealous Again sounded pretty good, but they really hit their stride in the middle of the set and finished STRONG with "Thorn In My Pride". It should be said right now, Luther is retarded good. The guy is a savant, he is such an amazing guitar player and adds so many layers to an already great band!

That's two.  Here's another...

i've got to be honest.....i was at the show...i had great seats....7th row center... and after all the shows i've been to in the last 20 years...i don't think i've EVER given them a bad review. but this show.....yikes! i didn't care for it at all. other than feathers and oh was hit after hit after hit after it seemed.  i thought columbus and cleveland had a much better setlist. detroit and chicago too. i guess i rate the shows more on not only the setlist but the vibe. and i just wasn't feeling it in indy.

That's three.  Here's another... 
Roadside was AWESOME. Everyone totally locked in, the axemen in particular of course. Then the outro jam was epic.  My memory was that they kept stretching out the jam (we got a righteous RR bonus solo), probably b/c they were on fire and the energy was just pushing it that way, but it did bleed to a finish before the sonic precursors to Wiser.

And now for your mental image portion of the review...

Hotel Illness was insane.  Steve came out front and beat on the big bass band drum while bouncing up and down....head flyin' and going nuts.  He was sweating and breathing heavy after that!  Hilarious. 

Yes, strange things are afoot with font sizes and colors around here.  That's just the way it is.  To St. Louis we go.  No beer menu tonight.  Drink more water.

House of Blues - Cleveland, Ohio - 8.24.10

The Black Crowes
House of Blues
Cleveland, Ohio
August 24, 2010

Good Morning Captain
Jealous Again
My Morning Song -> Stare It Cold -> My Morning Song
Poor Elijah - Tribute To Johnson (Medley)
Seeing Things
Let It Be Gone
Downtown Money Waster -> Jam ->                         
Thorn In My Pride
Last Place That Love Lives
Black Moon Creeping                                                     
No Speak No Slave
- encore -
She Talks To Angels
Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)

There's an old interview from back in the mid-90s with Chris where he trashed the House of Blues franchise saying something to the effect of, and I'm paraphrasing:  "Those people wouldn't know the blues if it bit 'em in the ass."  Well here we find ourselves in the year Two Thousand and Ten, and like Willie Nelson sings, ain't it funny how time slips away.  This was the fourth visit to the HOB for the band and the 13th Black Crowes show on record to go down in Cleveland, with the first one having been at the Agora opening for Junkyard in April 1990 and the second one coming two weeks later at the Phantasy Nite Club Theater opening for the McAuley Shenker Group

Continuing the trip down Cleveland Memory Lane, the House of Blues has seen two song debuts in the past, both coming during the two night run in July of 2008.  One was a never-before-played b-side from the By Your Side sessions and the other was a Grateful Dead cover.  The '95 show at the Cleveland Music Hall is known as being the show for which this famous Emek print was made.    

So, after three nights of double-setter marathons in Detroit, Chicago and Columbus over the weekend, the band had a day off before playing this one set all-electric show.  Capacity at the tiny HOB is 1200 and it was a sold out packed house.  Plenty of opportunities for people to get down early in the set with Good Morning Captain and Jealous Again kicking things off, followed by the MMS > Stare It Cold > MMS gospel tambourine breakdown that by now can officially be classified as a hit with all audiences, including atheists and agnostics who would normally resist the urge to dance and get into music inspired by the spirit and power of God running through your veins.  Then the first of several jams came during Poor Elijah.  The jam in this one can get pretty far out on the open sea sometimes and it's always a good indication of how dialed in the band is when they start to bring it back to port.  Everything docked back in nicely as things quieted down for Chris to do his thing on Seeing Things, which always seems to be a favorite with the ladies.  Did we mention he was rocking a headband tonight?  We don't get too wrapped up in the band's fashion sensibilities; we're here for the music, but when we do wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night with visions of Chris and headbands swimming though our skull, we tend to think of this.  

By the way, back on the memory lane front once more, here's a old clip for you from a show that just had its 15th anniversary this month.    

And now back to this show - following on the heels of Seeing Things was Let It Be Gone, which has been on the PUP list for an entire year after reconstructive knee surgery but has finally been making a welcomed comeback this month.  For those that are paying attention, that's the second cover Rich has pulled back out of retirement this month.  Could there be a Song of Love or a You've Got To Hide Your Love Away coming down the road?  Let's hope so.       

The onslaught of Downtown Money Waster > Thorn was the main course tonight - clocking in around 30 minutes - which usually tends to separate the men from the boys in the crowd.  You can always tell by a quick pan of the audience during this one, as the looks on people's faces indicate who's being dragged through the mud and who's surfing the moment.  The Last Place That Love Lives gave everyone time to recover for a Black Moon Creeping and No Speak No Slave roundhouse ending as the show was already past the 90 minute mark by this point.  She Talks To Angels and Been a Long Time (Waiting On Love) were served up for dessert as the night came to an end and the freaks and weirdos of Cleveland were all promptly sent home to their mamas.  You want more show details?  Fine, here you go:

Tuesday 08/24/2010
Doors: 07:30 PM
Show: 08:30 PM
$42.50 - GA standing room - Advance
$45.00 - GA standing room - Day of show           
$69.50 - Balcony Reserved seating
House of Blues Cleveland
308 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 523-BLUE (2583)
You want pictures too I suppose.  You'd think by now you'd all know what these guys look like.  Well, enjoy the pics while you can because the crackdown on cameras is coming...

PBR tallboys for $4. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

LC Pavilion - Columbus, Ohio - 8.22.10

Ahhh yes...the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion of Columbus, Ohio.  When most Crowes fans think of the LC they think of this. And that's a good thing.  Others think of this, and that ain't bad either.  

It's weird seeing the band playing in the sunlight. Something isn't quite right and it always affects what is served up and how people behave.  Everyone seems to be looking at each other and has a harder time getting into the music.  Once the sun goes down though things start to roll and that was the case outside in Columbus tonight.  With a Goodtimes and Jealous opening combo and a lot of ground covered during the Ballad > Wiser ride, the mellow vibes of Garden Gate, Polly and Cold Boy Smile helped move everyone closer to darkness as Money Waster, Wyoming and Me and Morning Song began to put the sun to bed.  No real surprises, although Garden Gate hasn't seen the light of day since the Fillmore run of December '09.  Coincidentally, if you're into spotting trends, Garden Gate was coupled with Polly that night as well.

The electric set was another story.  When's the last time you saw Blackberry live?  Was it this show at the Fillmore last year?  And did you see it coming any more then than you saw it coming here?  Unless you walked by the soundboard and peeked at the setlist, you didn't have a clue it would show up.  If we were on the Three Snakes tour, sure, we'd expect to see Blackberry two or three times a week.  Not anymore.  A song that was so popular after this show was played and the recording spread quickly, there were people begging Chris and Rich to put it on Three Snakes.  The album version differed from the first live version and some people were a little disappointed.  Blackberry is kind of like the Roe v. Wade of Crowes tunes, it's polarizing and everyone is quick to let you know what they think about it.  Us personally, we just like surprises, and the electric set tonight was unconventional enough to serve up a sequence of unpredictability.

Think about it...Blackberry, I Ain't Hiding and Ozone Mama...a 1-2-3 of get up and move your ass, followed by Oh Sweet Nuthin and a left turn How Much For Your Wings > Bring On, Bring On escape pod that went down to the deep, got a little off track and then came floating back up to the surface.  Those first six songs as a sequence cover a lot of ground from a perspective of musical styles, sounds and song vibe.  Whether you liked it or not, you have to at least acknowledge a band being capable of going that many places on a musical landscape and still not even coming close to touching on everything they can do.  Follow it up with a Progress > Thorn workout and close it down with a fourth tune from Three Snakes and you've got another unpredictable electric set in the books.  A quick H2H encore was remedied with a last minute addition of Remedy to give the people one more song as requested.  Speaking of the people, let's see what they had to say, because I don't know what this dude is talking about...

This was one hell of a show. The weather was perfect, the sound was very clean, and as Chris said "it smells better here than in Chicago." When the band is playing this well the setlist can become almost irrelevant. Best show I've seen them play anywhere.


Polly had a gorgeous, extended outro solo from Luther that I had not heard before. Incredibly melodic. 


Chris was like a jumping bean....oh, and this was not your father's Blackberry...they ripped it.


this show was absolutely fantastic! way better than the detroit show and i thought the detroit show kicked ass! but this show was something else! a few people already said it...the weather was perfect, the vibe was awesome... the setlist was cool......chris and rich were in great moods....the band was tight....i never stopped dancing!

And finally...

They rocked the shit out of Blackberry and Ozone Mama!

So as the BC Tour Blog continues to play catch up and document all the shows so far, and yes as the font color in this paragraph is a little brighter than all the others in this entry for some reason, onward the bus rolls toward the magical, beautiful and sports-lucky town of Cleveland.  Wait, most or all of that may be a misrepresentation.  Nevermind.  We didn't forget to mention the beer selection at the LC Pavilion, we just didn't have anything there so we can't really speak to what libations were flowing.  Too much drink is bad for your liver.  You have to give it a rest from time to time.  We did hear the beers were pricey though, as in Major League ballpark pricey.  This was a good night to take it easy.  In any case, look out Cleveland...

Chicago Theatre - Chicago, Illinois - 8.21.10

The second night of a two-fer of double setters brought us to the Windy City of Chicago on a Saturday night.  It was one of those great weather days on Saturday in Chicago that puts you in a good mood from that first moment you walk outside, knowing that when the sun goes down in a few hours you're going to get another three hours of music at the end of your day.

So on to the Chicago Theatre did the people go.  After a surprisingly undersold Fillmore/State Theatre the previous night in Detroit, the CT was filling up fast when we walked in and eventually grew to a full house Saturday night.

With Soul Singing starting to establish itself as one of the preferred set openers on the tour so far, we've seen it kick off the electric set in Detroit and the full electric show in KC already this week.  Tonight it opened the acoustic portion of the show.  No matter what city it gets played in, when the crowd hears Rich start the opening to Soul Singing, people get happy.  It's not carrying the weight that it did with previous versions on this tour; the jam has been set aside for now, and as a set opener on either end it's a great way to not only appease the casual fans but also to get it out of the way for the diehards who are eager to swim on to deeper waters.

Another tune getting a lot of run so far has been Hotel Illness, with Steve out front banging his big bass drum, and tonight we saw for the first time since May 2, 2005 someone other than Steve Gorman behind the drum kit on stage with the band.  Joe Magistro sat down on Steve's stool, grabbed a pair of sticks and suddenly a new element to the tour was introduced:  Musical Drum Chairs.  By the way, if you didn't click on that link over Joe's name, do it and check out his new thing, Prophet Omega.  Dude made an entire record playing a bunch of instruments by himself and singing.  That's some serious ambition.  You can listen to clips and buy the album here or check out his myspace and listen to full length tracks.  This should definitely open people's eyes to how talented Joe is and will probably appeal to just about any Crowes fan who is reading this.

Back to the show...
As I remarked to my traveling partner during the opening bars of Good Friday, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but Rich needs to be turned up."  Yes folks, in Chicago it finally happened.  In what may go down as the first and last time ever in this history of this band, Rich Robinson was not turned up loud enough in the mix.  Now, we're not pointing fingers at the crew running the board or anything like that, we're just saying.  No, nobody behind the rig is up for a job performance review and we're not trying to get anybody fired; we're just saying.  As the acoustic set moved on, things quickly improved and we were given our first Do Right Woman, Do Right Man since December 18, 2008 at the Fillmore.  You can always tell the women who know this song because you see a few turn and look right at their boyfriends, husbands and lovers when Chris sings, "If you want a do right all day woman, you gotta be a do right all night man."  And ain't that the truth.

Speaking of songs that have been on the shelf a while, when was the last time you saw My Heart's Killing Me in the set?  Don't remember?  How about October 27, 2008 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.  Up to this point, that's the longest vacation a song has had that's been brought out of storage on this tour, and it couldn't have fit in any better in the acoustic set.  Winding down, we got the always welcome acoustic Thorn and a She Talks To Angels capper.  Thorn acoustic is just fun; you get the sense during the breakdown that nobody really knows what Rich is going to do, including him, or how long he's going to go, and when he starts you get to really watch him play.  There are runs and licks in there you've heard him play before but in an acoustic setting during that portion of Thorn it's a full on Rich jam.  Everybody on stage is watching; you should have seen Luther's face.  They're all into it.

After the break, the electric set opened with the Morning Song > Stare It Cold > Morning Song gospel tambourine march up to heaven, and away we went.  Luther's take on Stare It Cold is different, just like Adam's take on Descending or Wiser Time is different, but the song is still there.  After church let out, if anybody in the house saw the next three songs coming, I'd like to meet 'em.  A staple of 2007, Isn't It About Time, popped up early out of nowhere for the first time since Richmond, Va in October of 2008.  Then, if you wiped the look of surprise off your face in time after that, you got another shocker with the rarely played Dirty Hair Halo, which caused some to say "Whoa" and others to high five.  That backwards guitar sound is like an acid flashback to the sounds they were making as the High as the Moon tour wound down and opened a new door for the band as the Tall era washed in.  I'm talking about this time period here and sounds like the ones Rich was making at the 5:55 mark of this.  Chicago has seen two Dirty Hair Halos now and clearly owns the franchise.  This song was recorded in '93 in multiple studio sessions and has only been played live eight times in the band's history.  If you're looking for rare tunes when you go to a Crowes show, there you go.  

After that eyebrow raiser, Make Glad was an unpredictable follow up that came in nicely, followed by Descending and a jammed out Girl From the North Country.  GFTNC got a work out.  This was where you were reminded how heavy these electric sets have been on jamming so far.  Some songs are just getting manhandled and bludgeoned and several times we haven't seen it coming.  If there's ever been a longer GFTNC played than this one, let us know.  At one point I believe the voice in my head said, "Damn, they are going off on this."  And they were.

Enjoy this clip, because you're probably going to see less and less of these as the tour moves on.  

Ballad into Wiser was a great way to end the set, with Adam playing those six notes at the end of Ballad that open the door for the flotation device that is the sonic bridge between Ballad and Wiser.  Some people like to close their eyes during this piece of music, and that's not a bad idea sometimes.  You can watch what's going on on stage all you want but if you really want to get lost and let yourself go, let your ears take over and block everything else out.  Try it some time.  You'll hear things with your eyes closed that you wouldn't with your eyes open.

The electric set ended a little earlier than expected, which might be why we all got a surprising three song encore of Remedy, Thick n' Thin and Don't Do It.  Nobody was complaining.  Fantastic ending to a fun night of curveballs and sliders that gave the people something to talk about on their way out the door.  We've said it before and we'll say it again: If you're a fan of this band, you need to get to as many of these two setters as you can.  The door is wide open every time and you never know what will come walking in.  There's a lot of room for the band to move and a lot of time to fill and it looks like more and more surprises are waiting down the road.  We're only one week in at this point and it's just going to keep getting better.

The beer selection tonight?  Chicago's own Goose Island 312.  That's all we had in our hand all night.  If you think people who talk to their beers are weird, you might be right.  If you think it's not slightly amusing to whisper "let it be gone" as you take your last sip, well you'd be wrong.  On to Columbus...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fillmore/State Theatre - Detroit, Michigan - 8.20.10

Back to the two setters for the first of a three-night weekend run kicking off in the Motor City.  Jim Leyland and the Tigers were at home Friday night so there were a lot of Tiger jerseys walking around downtown everywhere.  Ordonez, Cabrera and Damon jerseys to the left and to the right.  (Tigers 6, Indians 0) Probably a few less Damon jerseys after the events that have unfolded in the past 24 hours...but this is not a baseball blog; we're here to talk tour - so let's get to it.  

                                                                         First, the marquee...

On to the show - fantastic mellow Cold Boy Smile opener.  Just a nice, smooth, warm way to begin the evening.  It was relaxed, confident and in no hurry to get where it was going.  Jealous swung and Goodtimes was good times.  The next moment that really grabbed us though was the always welcome Wings -> Bring On escape from reality.  This combo of songs is one of those treats you love to get and it was well served by the acoustic treatment.  

The next wave of the first set turned into a hoedown hootenany with Jeremiah and Hotel Illness, again with Steve out front banging away on his big bass drum.  Speaking of big bass drums, Bob Dylan wrote a song about a girl whose spell was so overwhelming that he predicted you'd buy her a drum for Christmas, and when Leon Russell covered it on Shelter People he kicked the line up a notch to big bass drum status.  Here's another Leon clip for you to enjoy.

Back to the show...the first set wound down with Under a Mountain completing the Three Snakes first set trio followed by She Talks to Angels and the Morning Song gospel breakdown, during which four tambourines were counted being shaken on the stage.  That's a big red carpet rolled out inviting you to shake your ass right there and believe me, people's asses were indeed shaking.   Joe was on one of the four, with Chris and the girls on the other three.  As always, Joe was shaking and tapping things all night, as he has been every night, and his contributions have been a really nice addition to the sound.   Plus it's cool just to see him up there and watch him during certain songs.  We'll hold off for now on our epiphany regarding his hair being a conduit to spiritual liftoff and wellness, as well as its connection to the pyramid.  Next time.

So after a short break it was time for the rock, only tonight the rock was a little reserved to start.  Soul Singing kind of echoed the reserved beginnings of the evening but Share the Ride came in to kick it in gear.  Oh Sweet Nuthin' and Darling of the Underground Press are two other songs that are always welcome, and as was the case in KC, continued the re-unveiling of music that hasn't seen the light of day since San Francisco in December of '09.  Nonfiction, Ballad > Wiser and Thorn minus any form of Progress all served to put some meat and gristle on everyone's plate and finish out the second set.  The jam between Ballad and Wiser was a motherfucker.  No other way to put it.  It was and it is a highlight of the night.

As for the encore in Detroit, as underrated as I Ain't Hiding is, it's probably safe to say people were expecting something along the lines of a rare cover or an old chestnut.  It's also safe to say that the crowd in Detroit, for the most part, was easily one of the top five worst crowds of the past three years.  You had people in the balcony sitting on their ass complaining to the folks who wanted to get up and dance...literally yelling and pointing at people who were up dancing while they sat on their ass like it was dinner theater.  You had fuddy duddys on the floor standing around with their hands in their pockets like they were listening to the keynote speaker at an insurance convention.  The vibe was, shall we say, lacking.  So even though there were obviously good people scattered about, Detroit may have gotten a little karmic return with the encore.

We're moving on to Chicago...again no comments from the fans here as we're trying to play catch up and get up to speed.  Don't ask us what beer was for sale at the Fillmore in Detroit City because we put our heads down and went straight for the double vodkas all night, which may explain why portions of the evening were a total blur the next morning.  On to the next show...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Voodoo Lounge - Kansas City, Missouri - 8.18.10

The Black Crowes
Voodoo Lounge at Harrah's Casino
North Kansas City, Missouri
August 18, 2010

Soul Singing                                
Jealous Again
Hotel Illness
Girl From a Pawnshop
Greasy Grass River                                                           
Wounded Bird
Thorn's Progress -> Thorn In My Pride
Lady of Avenue A
Wiser Time
She Talks To Angels
Tied Up and Swallowed

Fourth trip for the band to the Voodoo Lounge in the past five years.  Yeah sure, this was a casino show...and casino shows tend to be like having Chinese food for dinner.  The meal is over and there you are walking out the door but somehow you just don't quite feel satisfied.  However, as we mentioned in a previous post, things happen in Kansas City when the Crowes come to town.  Songs that have never been played live before are debuted, the power goes out, more songs are debuted, and if you want to reach a could even say rare covers of recent years find their way back among the bubbling fountains and BBQ of KC.  Yes, technically Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains...but usually when you roll through you spend more time eating BBQ than you do looking at water sprinkling out of a baby's penis onto an innocent frog.

So what weird unpredictable thing went down this time in KC you ask?  How about the first Tied Up and Swallowed in a year - as a show closer no less - that nobody saw coming?  For those that are counting, that's only the fourth time this lineup has played the song together live.  Hello Kansas City. 

There were other moments nobody would have predicted.  Greasy Grass River?  Hadn't seen the light of day since the Fillmore last year.  The Dolphins?  Hadn't seen the light of day since the Fillmore last year, same night.  Lady of Avenue A?  Hadn't seen the light of day since the Fillmore last year, next to last night.

So why mention all of these, even though they aren't considered "rare" songs?  Simple.  Because Joe Crowe fan is so quick to glance at a set and shrug it off without thinking about it.  Unless he sees a show that opens with Pastoral followed by The Fear Years in the two hole and then gets his ears blown back later in the set with Grinnin', Exit, Bewildered and Name Like Music, he isn't happy...and even if he gets those all in one show he'd still want Words You Throw Away, Spider in the Sugar Bowl Blues (proper), Thunderstorm 6:54pm and Song of the Flesh in a balls deep four-song encore free-for-all.  That's what Joe Crowe fan wants.  Jane Crowe wants it too, and she wants it bad, which is kind of the point about the Kansas City show:  Sometimes you have to appreciate the little surprises even though you hope for the big ones.

Another treat so far this tour has been the return of Thorn's Progress and KC got one.  Are you kidding?  How good does this thing still sound when it comes around?  This isn't a song; it's a suite - and Rich is killing it.  There are peaks, valleys, turns, whispers, screams and driving dive bombs that all make up what is unquestionably one of the finest compositions he has ever written.  Thorn's Progress is the quintessential Black Crowes live performance.  It always does something different.  It grew and grew and grew during the High as the Moon Tour and continues to sprout new barnacles and fungus to this day.  When it gets played it's like feeding a Gremlin after midnight and then dumping it in the pool.  Shit happens.  If you're not appreciating it when you see it, you're lost.  The mutation of Progress in KC on this particular night included Chris on guitar throughout for 10+ minutes.  So there's another feather in the first time KC weirdness cap.  Get the tape.

Was it a perfect show?  No.  A lot of people got confused during Dolphins and probably had no idea what they were hearing.  It's unlikely that Lady of Avenue A was what some in the crowd wanted after the nearly 30-minute onslaught of the Thorn suite but as has been the case every night, when Wiser Time starts, the room is almost unanimously in approval and turns happy.  By now everyone should be up to speed on the M.O. of this tour: You're going to get the favorites.  Expect them.  As the bus rolls on down the road, you're going to get more nuggets in there too.  Did I mention the closer was Tied Up and Swallowed?

No messageboard comments for this show...but here's a review by some guy with plenty of fan comments afterward.  And here's another review by some freelance hack that's worth a chuckle.  No pictures.  How about a video of Tied Up and Swallowed filmed from the front row with an on-board mic that's getting pummeled?

*Beer selection at the Voodoo?  Everything.  Tonight we had Corona.  And Corona.

Val Air Ballroom - West Des Moines, Iowa 8.17.10

The Black Crowes
Simon Estes Amphitheater
Walnut Street Bridge
Val Air Ballroom
West Des Moines, Iowa
August 17, 2010

Sting Me
Ballad In Urgency
Wiser Time                                        
Downtown Money Waster
Thorn In My Pride
She Gave Good Sunflower
By Your Side
She Talks To Angels
Hard To Handle
                     Then                                                                                 Now
Originally, the 45th Annual Steven Andrew Gorman Birthday Celebration was scheduled for the Simon Estes Amphitheater.  Then the Midwest got a bit of rain.  And a little more rain.  And then it rained some more.  Pretty much all of Iowa was flooded.  Have you seen the Hilton Coliseum in Ames?  Because of all that rain, Fiesta de Steve was moved to the safe and high ground of the Walnut Street Bridge.  And then on his magical day, damned if the rain didn't hold up a middle finger salute right to his face and continue its relentless abuse on the innocent.  Subsequently, a third move was in order, this time inside to the lovely and historical Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines.

Finally Steve could relax and enjoy his day, while the crew at last had a confirmed destination where they could unload the gear.

This was the fourth show of the tour and the third all-electric set.  Yes, that picture of the marquee at the top was in fact taken outside the VAB.  Where were these guys when we needed them?  Obviously not in West Des Moines that night.  

By looking at that group of songs you can see it was a rock show.  Anybody who dismisses that set based on the short-sighted "on paper" philosophy is woefully mistaken.  Take out Polly (buy her a nice dinner) along with By Your Side and that setlist could pass for a gig straight out of August '95.  This is a show that you walk out of drenched in sweat.  Since the BC Tour Blog is way behind due to travel, by now you all know there was indeed a Happy Birthday salute played for Steve right before the harp section of Thorn because finally, at last, he's all growns up now.  Ballad > Wiser got another workout and Sunflower was dusted off for only the third time in nine months.  West Des Moines was also the lucky recipient of the slightly overdue and inevitable Little Feat cover in honor of the recent passing of Mr. Richie Hayward (RIP) in the form of a Willin' encore.  Let's see what the people had to say...

Best sunflower ever.  Everyone was rocking quite well and the crowd showed their appreciation all night.  Good times.  I felt sorry for them a little bit - they deserved a bigger aud...the band sounds pretty damn good.

Another happy customer...

You just had to be there. It really was a great night.

And another...

Great show, noticeably longer than the previous two. I think it clocked it in around 130 minutes. Lots of jamming, even Polly had an extended outro.

An honest critique and some advice from 29bb, who was in the house...

Chris's voice was tip top...they were in really good form last night. Just need a little more bite in Luther's tone.  Thorn is just too long.   I would have preferred that they shave that bad boy off. No reason that song should last more than 10 minutes. Add three more songs to the set (Under A Mountain, Make Glad, Stare it Cold for example).  Bottom line though - they brought it and delivered. Totally satisfied with that show.  

29bb with some gear info from stage left...
Rich was playing some unfamiliar gear - but he was rocking.  I want to say the amp I saw said Reasoner on it. The other stuff was nondescript with no real names on it.

More gear info from  BrainDamage...

That would be Reason. More specifically, a Reason SM50. They're based in St. Louis, and when the Crowes came through last year one of their guys brought Rich an amp to use at soundcheck. Obviously he liked it enough to keep using it, and it took the place of his 65 Amps Royal Albert (at least I think it was a Royal Albert). The other amp he has been using is a white handwired Vox AC30 head + cab.

So there you go gearheads.  We're outta here for now.  Still a lot of catching up to do as Kansas City, Detroit, Chicago and Columbus are all dangling out there desperately needing to be documented for historical purposes.  We'll get there brothers and sisters.  Hang loose.  Another picture from the Steve Party is below.  We'll be back soon...

*As always, we can't leave without mentioning the beer selection for the evening.  Inside the Val Air Ballroom, anybody who fancied themselves as the Most Interesting Man in the World no doubt took full advantage of the Dos Equis on tap.  If not, you may have enjoyed a bottle of Bud.  Ranger IPA was also flowing. Off we go...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zoo Amphitheater - Apple Valley, Minnesota - 8.15.10


Night three of the tour and we're starting to get a feel for what these electric only shows are going to look like.  About a dozen songs, give or take, and an evening stretched out with jams.  This one clocked in at 90 minutes.  Will all of these electric-only one-set shows be like this for the duration of the tour?  Who knows...the first two have both been in weird venues the band has never played before.  Capacity at the The Weesner Family Amphitheater inside the Minnesota Zoo is 1450 reserved and the show was sold out.  All shows are sponsored by Subway so you can guess what kind of eats might have been available for the crew.  

According to this review from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, it wasn't quite spider monkey bed time when the Sunday Service wound down, as the show "could’ve lasted a whole hour more without passing the zoo’s 10:30 p.m. curfew."  I checked the Sunday night tv listings and all I came up with was the Tebow debut in Denver that may have been the impetus for an early band exit.  

Stat line: 8/13, 105 yds, 1 rushing TD and as always, all glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Back to the show...

The One Mirror Too Many opener is said to have included a first-time jam on the end that definitely makes finding a recording of this a necessity.  No word on whether there were any tapers in the house.  If you took any kind of hallucinogenics before you entered the zoo, the How Much For Your Wings > Bring On, Bring On portion of the show was probably when things really kicked in.  Imagine every one of your senses firing on all cylinders during that middle portion...and right as the band gets to a really quiet, soft, mellow transitional section where you start to feel safe and cradled in their arms......your super hearing begins picking up on all the animal sounds coming from the zoo.  Hello psychedelic lift off.

Returning to normal consciousness - as it stands, so far a few people unable to catch one of the 3-hour acoustic/electric double setters are feeling a little gypped.  Others are saying the performances have been hot.  To quote Patrick Swayze in his immortal role as Dalton the Roadhouse cooler, "Opinions vary."  We'll get to the takes in a second; but first a few facts about the Minnesota Zoo's Weesner Family Amphitheater:

  • Umbrellas are not permitted in the amphitheater.  Please leave umbrellas in your vehicle.  Ponchos are suggested for rainy weather.
  • All guests older than the age of one will be charged full price.
  • All concert goers, including Zoo members, will be charged a $5 parking fee.
  • Tailgating is not permitted in the Zoo parking lot.
  • Smoking is permitted in the merchandise area and the food service area between the caribou exhibit and the restrooms. Please respect all guests and limit smoking to these two areas. 
  • Food and beverages are for sale at the Zoo. Please do not bring outside items.** 

Now let's hear  what the people had to say about the Crowe version of Music in the Zoo starting off with Appaloosa from Minnesota...

Another very solid and fun show tonight in Apple Valley, MN! Show length was about 105 minutes. The 'My Morning Song' change up with 'Stare It Cold' inserted in the middle, and the Croweology arrangement included in the finale was interesting and fun. 'Descending' was also a highlight. Luther continues to shine and Adam's piano solo at the end of Descending - also wonderful. Great energy, mood and perfect weather. On to the Bridge in Des Moines on Tuesday.

alzeppelin from Northern Iowa (who provided the setlist snapshot) says... 

Great, Great show. I cheated and checked out one of the setlists on the stage before the show and couldn't believe we were going to get 3 tunes off 3 Snakes. My second Mirror opener too so I feel really lucky.   Awesome venue with virtually no bad seat. Remedy was an addition since it was not on the printed setlist.  My faith is renewed!

From jknne...

This was actually not 120 minutes, it was only about 95. It felt short but it was  a great set and it was great to hear the TSAOC songs. Even the SYMM songs sounded great. Great show and the band is TIGHT. 

Some guy whose board handle is Marc Ford says...

The electric only sets look strong but seem short for the price paid to attend.

And zoso594 offers up...

It seems short but with those tunes in the set you can't complain.  (Well most will but realistically you shouldn't)

And what would a Black Crowes show be without some freaky behavior in the crowd?  Tela's take on the t-shirt waving monkey man at the zoo...

What was the guy in the handicap section doing with the tshirt the last 5 songs!!!!!!??? Holding up a tshirt right infront of CR and RR in the first row saying "the hippies were right" is just astonomically idiotic and really doesnt contribute to the/our overall experience, so please i nthe future keep it on and keep on dancing....not to mention how oft-putting it was to the really calm and beautiful I can only image how the band felt
watching that moron perform this weird ritual 8 feet from their faces. 

Gotta love those freaks...unless of course they're hirsching your jig during the show like this guy.  Anyway you get the idea.  People liked the zoo set but wish it was longer.  Not sure how the fruit bats, warty pigs and ring-tailed lemurs felt about it.    

In the Too Late Because That Train Done Left The Station category:  If there was ever a show where there should have been a special t-shirt or poster made, this was the one.  I mean come on - we're talking about a band called The Black Crowes playing a show at the zoo.  Endless potential.  Swing and miss Crowe Nation.  Swing and miss.

A few videos have started popping up and the one you see below is Descending.  Is this the greatest Descending ever?  Nope.  There are spots where it kind of plods along and Luther doesn't quite hit the "But I will let it slide" lick.  This tune has some dust and cobwebs on it; they haven't played it since the encore of December 9, 2009 at the Fillmore.  Special note made on the nearly three minutes at the end where the band shuts down and lets Adam do his thing.  Did Ed's Descending outro ever go for three minutes?  If so, point me in the right direction and I'll dig out the tape.  The old Descending style had Ed play for about a minute and then the band came back in.  Anyway, here's your latter-day Descending...with a good bit of Elton John channeling around the 5:55-6:20 mark...

Well, we'll see how things continue to progress as we move along.  Monday is a day off and Tuesday the tour picks back up in the flood ravaged wetlands of Des Moines, Iowa where the show originally scheduled for the Simon Estes Amphitheater has been moved to the safe heights of Walnut Bridge. 

**No word on the adult beverage selection at the Zoo, or if there even was one.  Perhaps there was some lemonade available at the concession stand.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Northern Lights Casino - Walker, Minnesota - 8.14.10

The Black Crowes
August 14, 2010 
Northern Lights Casino 
Walker, Minnesota

Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution
Jealous Again
Another Roadside Tragedy                     
Wiser Time
Poor Elijah - Tribute to Johnson (Medley)
Sometimes Salvation
High Head Blues
Oh Sweet Nuthin’
Thorn In My Pride
Twice As Hard
- encore -

Casinos.  Besides the Hard Rock in Vegas and the Borgata in Atlantic City, casino gigs aren't usually at the top of the list when a Crowes fan is mapping out shows to hit during the tour.  They end early, you tend to get an extra dose of vanilla and the room is usually filled with gamblers who got comp tickets for going on a run at the craps table.  In Vegas and Atlantic City you tend to get nights like this and this and Walker, Minnesota you get nights like this.  If you were expecting the evening to be like this or even this, we have a seat reserved for you.  So don't get all bent out of shape over the first and likely last Crowes gig ever at the Northern Lights Casino.  By the way, have you checked the Calendar of Events there lately?  Kenny Rogers played a two night stand this past January with four hungry children and a crop in the field.  Two nights.  They also have zydeco dance lessons at the NLC if you need to brush up on your Cajun hoedown skills.  

Attendance was reportedly around 1000 400 people.  Most diehards probably steered clear.  Running time was clocked around 90 minutes.  Lots of complaining on the messageboards from people who weren't there.  Not many reviews and comments to be found on this one from folks who were in the building...

Fan #1...

I ended up making the drive to Walker for last night's gig and I'm so glad I did! Thanks for the ticket Matt! They simply rocked the 400 or so that were there. (if that many) Made it back home and recharging for the MN Zoo show tonight - and the weather is spectacular! This will be the real test of how they are treating the electric shows. They have a 3 hour window to do whatever. Will they maximize the opportunity and evening for all of us? Bring some of that spirit from the Walker gig to The Zoo guys and gals, and add another 75 minutes!

Fan #2... 

It was short but a very solid show. I have to imagine tonight will be even better!

And a band sighting by another... 

...saw the boys get on the bus yesterday in downtown Minny, was one of the coolest moments ever. Had no idea they were staying at same hotel as I. Talked to Luther, said hello to Chris, Rich cruised by me. Wanted a picture but was too shocked as my favorite band walked by.

Wouldn't be complete without sharing a few thoughts from the peanut gallery... 

10 tunes for $51.... that's $5.10 per tune and tunes they play all the time. Highly disappointing. If you traveled to see this show, I'd want a refund $51 for the show. $20 for gas. $15 for food. $15 beer. $25 left handed cigarettes. $125 for 10 tunes and a long ride home. Nice!

And another...


There were quizzical inquiries made...

Is there a reason why this show was so short...?

And answers given...

Casino show...usually shorter than most other shows....relax. 

As well as an interesting bit about the soundcheck...

 I should add that as we headed out across the road for dinner, we came upon a very late (1 1/2 hrs before showtime?) soundcheck in the tent; needless to say we went no further as we watched them test out (sans CR of course) several zep tunes: Nobody's fault But Mine, Hots On For Nowhere, Custard Pie & even a taste of In My Time of Dying; in our altered state, we mused that perhaps they had lured Jimmy Page to Walker, MN??? - also heard Better When You're Not Alone & Cypress Tree-

So with Walker, Minnesota and the Northern Lights Casino in the rearview mirror, the bus rolls south through Brainerd and heads for the polar bears and spider monkeys at the Zoo Amphitheater in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Goodbye Northern Lights -

*There were no official reports provided as to the beer selection at the NLC, so we will presume, at the very least, Budweiser was available.