Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Family Circle Stadium - Charleston, South Carolina - 9.10.10

The evening started out well enough, albeit with the sun still up and the sticky heat still blazing as Jealous Again, Soul Singing and Hotel Illness teamed up to get the show off and running.  It was during the fourth offering of the night though when things took a little turn.  Too many people don't realize that the energy driving the music is fueled by the vibe the crowd gives back to the people on stage.  The band has eyes.  They can see what's going on in the crowd...and during the quieter acoustic numbers, they can hear what's going pretty well too.  Tonight in Charleston what the crowd gave back to the band was loud voices talking to neighbors and into cell phones, and it kept getting louder and louder and louder during Chris' quiet opening to The Last Place That Love Lives.  After a couple of minutes, he stopped the song and gave everyone the business...  

“Hey, am I keeping you guys from something?  Well remember this...when you run your mouth, other people want to hear the music”
  • Chris Robinson - September 10, 2010
Now, sometimes a Chris Robinson scolding can turn a show sour for a few minutes.  Sometimes they're met with laughter and amusement but if the vibe gets too heavy he usually remedies the situation pretty quick with a couple of jokes and then it's all good and back to business.  This time the song stoppage seemed to have a little more of an effect on the band than it did the crowd.  While it wasn't the first time he's undressed a crowd and certainly not the last, everyone did quiet down to their own benefit but we sensed that the happy vibes coming off the stage during the first three songs had evaporated and you could feel that mood linger for a few minutes.

And then, for the people he wasn't talking to, he introduced the second* acoustic Wee Who See The Deep anybody's ever seen performed live.  It was also the first time any form of the song had seen the light of day in 2010.  Wee Who See The Deep was written acoustically so the transition back from the Warpaint version was seamless.  In the acoustic set, we'd love to see it jammed out a little and cross a bridge into Thorn, Nonfiction or maybe even a Morning Song.  The possibilities are almost endless.  What followed was another first - the long overdue acoustic Time Will Tell - 18 years overdue in fact.  If you were to take that long returning a library book you might be arrested and thrown in federal prison.  Since it was recorded in Atlanta at Southern Tracks Studios in January of '92, there has been no acoustic version of Time Will Tell ever played live.  It was played several times during the 2001 tour but those were all full-on plugged in versions and even though they sounded great, acoustic is where it's at for Time Will Tell.  Perhaps this is the song people are searching for when they ponder what might be the last song played at the Fillmore on December 19, 2010.  A switch from piano to organ for Adam's parts might be the only consideration next time out as it's hard to find anything to nitpick about this one.  All we ask is...play it more please.

After a Ballad > Wiser cross country run, Wyoming and Me drifted in for the second time this tour and continued to mellow everyone out until My Morning Song had asses shaking in the aisles again.  The gospel tambourine breakdown is batting 1.000 so far this year and is the overwhelming MVP candidate of the acoustic sets.  Some Crowes fans prefer their Morning Song to be old school, loud and electric while others like the new one.  The coolest kids in school like both.  One thing is for sure, the acoustic Morning Song gets the crowd going every time.  Never fails.  She Talks To Angels followed and it was set break time.

The Blackberry that opened the electric set included an expanded jam that had clearly been arranged and worked out ahead of time.  There was no harp like the old days but there was a Gorman/Magistro drums and percussion work out that dropped into a funky guitar line by Rich that reminded us of the High Head Blues intro jam from the Hooked or Bycrooked Tour of the Summer of '96.  A lot of Rich's riffs are incestuous and bred from cousins of cousins of cousins who marry and bear offspring that end up mating and having three headed babies with inverted kneecaps and cleft palates.  Only in the freaky Black Crowes world of weirdos and misfits are these things acceptable.  With Rich laying down the foundation of funk, Luther soloed for a couple of minutes as the whole thing stretched out, built up and segued back into the chorus of Blackberry.  It may need a little work but it was cool.

With I Ain't Hiding and Ozone Mama continuing the dance fest the fourth song of the electric set came in the form of Descending, otherwise known as a so-called hot topic of debate among Crowes fans.  Adam's outro, which some enjoy and others criticize, didn't have the upbeat Elton John-esque flavor he's brought to it before but it did showcase his syncopated style of stopping and starting in spots before finding its way back to the ending.  As it trailed off into the distance it pulled up the blinds and let Thorn's Progress come in through the window...and with a couple of really great build ups and breakdowns led by Steve and Rich locked in on the assault, everyone followed their lead as they pulled off into another Spider in the Sugar Bowl Blues detour that inspired Chris to step up to the mic and recite a couple of lines.  We think he might have forgotten a line or two and took creative liberty to alter things a little, which is beyond reproach considering he wrote the damn thing...instead of “Has no knives, only spoons” we got “The magic in the silver spoon” and instead of “A sweet tooth for a new cocoon” we think what we got was “The mystery in powder blue” but we're not real sure.  Doesn't really matter - point being, the expansion of Spider in the Sugar Bowl continues as the tour moves forward, hopefully leading up to what is starting to seem like an inevitable full on stand-alone version that would mark the first complete band performance since July 31, 1997.  We think it's coming. We hope it's coming.  Only time will tell. 

Dirty Hair Halo was played next for the second time this tour, which reminds us that the most memorable sense that human beings possess is the sense of smell.  We smell things that take us back to vivid childhood memories and specific places and times...and whenever Rich lays into those backwards guitar lines to start Dirty Hair Halo - coupled with the right kind of smoke wafting under our noses - our memory goes back to that crunching, driving sound Rich used to get from just a Telecaster and a whole lotta volume coming out of those old Marshall Jubilees.  No effects, no pedals, no nothing...just a guitar and an amp cranked to 11.  You can also find that signature 1992 Rich Robinson/Fender/Marshall Jubilee sound on The Fear Years but watch that you don't get stuck in the molasses.  Nowadays it's all heavy duty stuff.

"The first really good Fender I bought was a black Tele Deluxe from the ’70s. And then I bought a ’68 blond Tele and that’s been my main guitar ever since. I paid 400 bucks for it."

  •  Rich Robinson
Back to present day...the next four songs included Sometimes Salvation, Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution, the Velvet Underground's Oh Sweet Nuthin' and Halfway To Everywhere with a nice jam on the end comprised the four song approach and landing of the electric set.  Salvation was tight, Daughters was rolling, Oh Sweet Nuthin was smooth and Halfway To Everywhere got right on down for almost 9 minutes.  Before the encore of Remedy, Chris remarked that “All the Southern children like to rock and roll,” which you may or may not recognize as a line from Leon Russell's Dixie Lullaby.  Lay It All On Me was scrapped to avoid going past the curfew and that was that.

After some waves and thank yous the brothers and sisters of the lowcountry were sent on their way off into the South Carolina night air.  Some wanted more music and some were just relieved to finally have permission to talk on their cell phone.  As everyone walked out the exits toward their cars to head where ever they were going - perhaps for a post-show Waffle House run - another two set show was in the books as the band prepared to motivate south towards Atlanta to be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on Saturday.  Next show: Sunday night at the Ryman in Nashville.  

*Thanks to Brain Damage for the correction!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Georgia Music Hall of Fame Induction - Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre - 9.11.10

The Black Crowes
Georgia Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
September 11, 2010

She Talks To Angels*
Georgia On My Mind (1st time played)*

*with Chuck Leavell

"This is the first time in 20 years that we’ve all washed our hair on the same day." 
  • Chris Robinson

Tonight the band was honored by their home state with an induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.  After an introduction by Chuck Leavell and a short speech by Chris, the band performed a three song set comprised of Remedy, She Talks To Angels and a first-time played cover of the state's official song, Georgia On My Mind.  With Chuck sitting in on the latter two, the sight of him on stage with the band provided everyone an opportunity to look back twenty years into the past.  Chuck's involvement with the band's career early on was heavy from his playing on Shake Your Moneymaker to his gigging with the band in 1990...subsequently, his influence on the band's future was even heavier by way of his seminal contribution in being the man who recommended and introduced them to their future keyboard player, a dude by the name of Eddie Harsch.

Here's the story as told by Ed from an interview in Keyboard Magazine, 1996...

"Chuck played on their first record, says Eddie of Leavell, "and they were trying to get him to join the band, but Clapton wanted him to go on tour.  So one night he says, 'Eddie, you'd be great for the Crowes.'"

Summarily, Eddie booked a flight to Atlanta to meet up with the Crowes on
the set of a video shoot.  On his first night there, "Nobody even talked
to me.  I was invisible.  But on the second night, Johnny [Colt, bass player]
came up to me and said something like, 'Dude, you're that keyboard
player?  Wanna go for a drink?'  So we went to the Gold Club [Atlanta
adult establishment], and some dude jumped on Johnny...sucker-punched him. 
A giant fight broke out, and I ended up on top of this guy, pummelin'. 
The next day Johnny went back to the Crowes with a report: 'I don't know
if this guy can play, but he can fight, and that's good enough for me!" 
Eddie did have to play, eventually, but one quick two-song audition was
all it took:  "You're in." 

Ed's first show with the band came two weeks later.  Imagine how different the Crowes sound would have been had they never met Ed.  Would Southern Harmony and Amorica be as good as they are without him?  Would the breakdown in Remedy be as funky?  Would Thorn In My Pride come in through your speakers as effortlessly smooth without his organ there holding it all together?  What would have become of My Morning Song, She Gave Good Sunflower, Descending, Wiser Time, Downtown Money Waster or Peace Anyway without the weird ol' space alien in studio on keys?  Would they have been able to attempt or do justice to covers like Nasty Boogie Woogie, Shake Your Money Maker, Sloppy Drunk or Give Peace A Chance without him?  Would they have sounded as good playing Zeppelin tunes with Jimmy Page if another keyboard player had been on stage?  Thanks to the recommendation of Chuck Leavell, we never had to find out.

Here's the live video of She Talks To Angels with Chuck still in the band during a three-night run at Center Stage in Atlanta in December 1990.  Coincidentally, Burning Tree opened all those shows...changes were afoot with the band as their sound and chops were evolving, a new keyboard player was about to enter the mix and their future lead guitar player was continuing to bond with his future bandmates.

Slide show from the Georgia Hall of Fame ceremony here.  Chuck teaching you how to play Statesboro Blues below.

And the bus rolls on to Nashville...

Ryman Auditorium - Nashville, Tennessee - 9.12.10

There have been some pretty memorable shows go down at the Ryman over the years for Black Crowes fans.  In 2005, a two set beauty with Donnie Herron and Audley Freed sitting in gave everyone two great first time played country covers.  Even though it wasn't a Ryman show, 2006 saw lots of covers and another Audley sit in.  2007 brought another country-tinged setlist and delivered the first and only offering of Waylon Jennings' Sweet Mental RevengeIn 2008, the band played a more rocking set with another appearance by Audley on an encore version of Dreams.  And last year's show at the Ryman was all over the map with a heavy dose of new material, a few chestnuts and the first Thunderstorm 6:54pm in a year.  

Naturally, with all that Nashville magic that has happened in the past, the band's 2010 Ryman appearance had been circled with a big red Sharpie on a lot of people's calendars when the tour dates were announced.  Speculation ran amok on the messageboards as to who might show up to jam, what kind of covers would wind up in the set and how classic a night it would be given this tour's circumstances.  The day of the show, the big buzz was that Robert Plant was in town and would be sitting in.  What would they play?  Zeppelin covers?  Tasty country tunes?  Maybe some blues?  Unfortunately, the answer was none of the above.  Uncle Bob never walked out on stage during the show, but the band still had work to do, so let's get to it...

After the now familiar opening of Soul Singing and Hotel Illness, it got a little country with the first Appaloosa of the tour so far.  After that, the rest of the acoustic setlist was pretty comparable to what we've seen the past past few weeks.  Other than My Heart's Killing Me, which was played for the second time this tour, the biggest surprise for some may have been seeing Chris in an Elvis t-shirt.  The King recorded a lot of music at RCA Studios in Nashville during his career so to call it a surprise would be a stretch, but the good people of Memphis might like a little recognition of their own as the home of The King when the band rolls through town on September 30.  

She Talks To Angels has started to own the last spot in the acoustic sets, although tonight it was added to the setlist, and How Much For Your Wings > Bring On Bring On made its fifth appearance of the tour as it begins to separate itself from the pack as a set centerpiece.  Being perhaps the darkest offering in the band's repertoire these days, the spooky space ride that bridges these two songs is the part of the show most likely to serve as the entrance music for the Boogeyman.

Now just because the first set didn't deliver any surprise guests or never-before-played whopper country covers, that's not to say that the familiar tunes didn't deliver the goods.  We already know the power of the new Morning Song; Chris sings the hell out of it, but what about the acoustic Thorn In My Pride?  It's easy to overlook it when glancing at any setlist, and sure you've all heard it before but you're either lying or half dead if you like this band and don't find yourself getting into watching Rich go off on an acoustic guitar during that breakdown.  If you're truly a fan of Rich's playing and aren't just a setlist snob only interested in rare tunes and curveball covers, you are a fan of the acoustic Thorn no matter how many times you see it.  Tonight it got so out of hand that Rich broke a string and ended it short of where it was headed.

The electric set opened in style with Feelin' Alright, which is perhaps the most popular tune the band can open any set with.  It's been know to pop up on plenty of encores back in the day but as an opener, it is bulletproof.  When the band walks out on stage and launches into Feelin' Alright they instantly have the crowd in the palm of their hand and this night was no different.  The audience was jacked. Imagine going out on a first date with the girl of your dreams and when you get to her front door to pick her up she greets you with an unexpected steamy kiss on the lips to begin your evening.  No, that does not make her a slut.  It makes you a lucky man. 

Being a Sunday, the service had officially commenced.  With a crowd raring to go and ready to get down, Seeing Things may not have been everyone's #1 choice to follow Feelin' Alright but those in the know were not completely surprised to hear it.  It went straight into Stare It Cold to keep the service going, which was then followed by an electric Ballad > Wiser and She Gave Good Sunflower, which is on pace to show up about once every two weeks.  Oh Josephine, which is setting a once a week pace of its own, followed Sunflower and gave Luther yet another opportunity to do his thing.  And speaking of doing his thing, we've grown fond of watching Luther on the Jealous Again outro.  It's in his wheelhouse, he tries like hell to play it Brendan O'Brien style a la the Shake Your Moneymaker album version and he does it with all his might.  Whether you're a fully committed Luther fan by this point or whether he's still growing on you, to see him fully invested and wanting so badly to play that outro so right does nothing but endear him to the cause in our eyes.  

As Remedy wound down it went right into No Speak No Slave, a balls out set ender that blew people's hair back and had the Ryman crowd rocking.  An encore of Clapton's I Don't Know Why and Otis Redding's Hard To Handle closed out the night.  Let's see what the people had to say starting out with this lady's observations...

I gotta say that this was one of the most exhuberant audiences I have been a part of - over the past 20 years. That place was rumbling from start to finish. I'm sure the acoustics of the Ryman had something to do with the actual VOLUME in that place but there is no escaping the fact the energy was through the roof.  I was really blown away by the support of the Nashville audience and really pleased to see and feel the love for this band. 

She also spied Rolling Stone writer and Crowes fan David Fricke in the crowd...

I also saw Fricke at the show scribbling away on his notepad. He was ROCKING and it was obvious to me how much he enjoyed the show. I also happened to see him the night before at Mike Farris. That guy sure has got a rough life.

More thoughts on the show from another satisfied customer...

It was a great show. Of the 3 two-setters I've seen so far on this tour (the others being Chicago and Denver), it was definitely the best. The Ryman is a magical, magical place. We were in the front row and to feel all the clapping and foot-stomping behind us really felt like church -- 

And another who was floored by the atmosphere and crowd...

I kind of feel like a tidal wave just hit me and I am trying to get my bearings. I've only been to 15 shows, but this atmosphere/crowd was as passionate as I have ever witnessed. The building was shaking on numerous occasions

And another...

Wings into Bring on was very spacey. Thorn into Morning song. The ends of these two songs I thought they were gonna bring the house down. Everyone was shaking the pews and stomping the wood floors. That was just fucking amazing.  After the show we caught all of them in the alley. Even Chris and his 400lb body guard. Rich was very nice. So was Steve and Luther. I got their Autographs. Very nice. 


Here's a pic from a fella who came down from Indiana and ran into Chris and Luther before the show...

By the way, here's a reminder which band member carries the most weight in Nashville.  Don't ever forget it.

Tomorrow's a day off and then it's back to South Carolina for a one set electric show on Tuesday night  in Myrtle Beach...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cain's Ballroom - Tulsa, Oklahoma - 9.8.10

The Black Crowes
Cain's Ballroom
Tulsa, Oklahoma
September 8, 2010

Waiting Guilty
Hard To Handle
Go Tell The Congregation
Only A Fool
Show Me
Seeing Things
Whoa Mule             
What Is Home
Poor Elijah (Tribute To Johnson)
Downtown Money Waster
Thorn In My Pride
She Talks To Angels
Wiser Time
- encore -
Miracle To Me
Tied Up & Swallowed

What a beginning to this show.  Look at those first five songs.   Everybody loves a Waiting Guilty opener, Hard To Handle is best early in a set, Go Tell The Congregation has been long overdue and always gets people moving, Only A Fool is one of those songs that is served best by the occasional rare appearance and Show Me is, well...Show Me is just a good old fashioned first rate wimbo sheshe.  This was a helluva fine beginning to the evening...and even though Cain's is non-smoking, as soon as the lights went down and the music started, puffs of smoke (both kinds) could be seen wafting through the air.  Tulsa was getting down.

Show Me was written by Joe Tex and was first debuted live by the band on July 23, 2008 at....guess where...Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa.   Serendipitous indeed.  They also played it a few weeks later that year in Wichita on August 13, 2008 to honor the day of his passing in 1982.  If you aren't hip to Joe Tex you should be; not only is he mandatory listening if you like soul music, he's also credited as the first to coin the term rap in describing part of his style of music.  Not that Joe was a rapper; he was more down home southern soul with a little jackleg preacher thing going on.  Rappers have sampled a lot of Joe Tex's music, but nobody has been sampled more than James Brown.  In fact, back in the day Joe and JB had a famous rivalry you may or may not know about...

It started out friendly enough; JB recorded one of Joe's tunes (Baby You're Right) and took it to #2 on the R&B charts in 1961.  Nevermind that JB reportedly also stole some of Joe's stage moves – what happened later was much worse – JB invited Joe's wife, Bea Ford, to join the James Brown Revue - you can hear her sing on the JB tune “You've Got the Power” - and eventually JB did the dirtiest of dirtys by bedding her.  After a while, JB wrote Joe a letter telling Joe he could have her back.   Joe let them both know how he felt by recording “You Keep Her.”  Click on that link and listen to it right now.  Despite all of this drama, the two continued to perform shows together occasionally.  After JB's 1963 album Live at the Apollo was released, JB returned to Macon to play a homecoming show, with Joe on the bill.  That night, Joe hilariously mocked JB's famous act from “Please, Please, Please” where he would drop to his knees, have his emcee come out and drape a cape over his shoulder and pretend to walk off stage.  Newton Collier, who played trumpet in Sam and Dave's Band, describes what went down during Joe's set in Macon:

"You know how James came out with the cape? Joe had one made up out of a raggedy blanket, with holes all in it. You know how James would break down and fall on his knees?   Joe fell on his knees, and all of a sudden, he grabbed his back.  He had the cape on and got all tangled up in it, and he was fighting to get out, singing, "Please, please, please, get me out of this cape."   He just made a mockery of James. Here it was, James' homecoming show, and James didn't appreciate this at all.  He went out to Club 15 after the show, and Joe Tex was out there.  And James took a couple of shotguns, and I think six people got shot.  James did most of the shooting, and Joe was running back behind the trees and bushes.  So that was the end of the Joe Tex/James Brown revue."

Another interesting nugget about this story - Club 15 was located in east Macon, and that night Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers were performing.  In addition to Jenkins, the band also included a cat by the name of Otis Redding.   Here's Jenkins' recollection of what happened when JB showed up...

"Seven people got shot. They were reloading and coming back in.  Me and Otis, we were hiding behind a piano.  A guy went around later, and I think he gave each one of the injured $100 apiece not to carry it no further.  And that just quieted it down."

Now is that a story or what?   Kind of makes you look at Joe Tex and JB in a whole new light.  Well, maybe not JB.  His reputation had preceded him for years.   Let's get back to the show...

After those fantastic first five set the place on fire, Seeing Things brought things down a few levels while Chris went ahead and sang the hell out of it.  When Shake Your Moneymaker came out, a review of the album described Chris' third verse vocal on Seeing Things as being in “Mahalia Jackson territory.”  We didn't even know who Mahalia Jackson was back then.  Next was the criminally underrated Whoa Mule, with Steve out front on the hand drum.  Arguably the best song on Warpaint, sometimes it makes us think of an old Looney Tunes bit with Yosemite Sam riding a camel in the desert, screaming Whoa Camel!  You'll just have to watch the video to get where we're coming from.  What Is Home followed, and coupled live with Whoa Mule creates one of the best two song combos of recently written material by the band.  If you've been following these guys since the early days, did you honestly ever think you'd see them writing songs like Whoa Mule and What Is Home?  We're not sure what to think of Crowes fans who aren't real fond of the newer stuff, especially the more roots music oriented tunes; but you can count us among those who are.

Poor Elijah and Downtown Money Waster into Thorn In My Pride provided the next 40 minutes of entertainment for everyone. Luckily, Cain's lets you buy sixers of beer, complete with the plastic rings, so you don't have to keep winding your way back to the bar every time you finish a can of Bud. If you were at the show, you may have noticed a few folks walking around carrying a six pack of cans. Those people are known as professionals. With the show winding down at this point, She Talks To Angels and Wiser Time made their 13th and 17th appearances out of 18 shows so far this tour and then it was on to the encore.

As the band walked back on stage, Miracle To Me came out unexpectedly, having not been seen or heard from since November of last year in Indianapolis.  Without question one of the best tunes on Lions, not only would it fit in nicely in an acoustic set, this is one we think some of the diehards would probably like to see pop up a little more often in place of some of the more frequently played selections.  

Closing out the night was Tied Up and Swallowed, which also capped off the Kansas City show a few weeks ago.  We love Tied Up and Swallowed and never, ever sneer at its arrival; what we'd really like to see though is for it to open a show or even kick off the electric portion of a double setter.  Curveballs are what us weirdos need and the more we get the happier we are.   So with that, the night came to an end.  We'll share a video we found shot by a genius on the front row during Tied Up and Swallowed whose directorial endeavors were thwarted by Chris throwing a towel over whatever type of cell phone or digital camera she was using to film.  The sound drops out and you may have to turn your head sideways to view the action but the ending is worth it.  A few pictures are below for your viewing pleasure as well.

By the way, Cain's is the home of Bob Wills, who just happens to be The King of Western Swing, and if you're not hip to the man, add him to your list next to Joe Tex.  Some of you may have been turned on to him by seeing BR5-49 cover his tune  "Take Me Back To Tulsa"  back in that decade we call the 90s.  J.J. Cale, Leon Russell, Roy Clark, Elvin Bishop, Carl Radle, Hank Thompson, Gene Autry, Gary Busey and S.E. Hinton are a handful of other notable folks from Tulsa.  

Well, it's a long drive east to Charleston, South Carolina but there's a nice long double set evening of music going down there in two days, so hit 'em up and move 'em out...


Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino - Mescalero, New Mexico - 9.6.10

The Black Crowes
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino
Mescalero, New Mexico
September 6, 2010

Movin' On Down The Line
Black Moon Creeping
Make Glad
Ballad In Urgency
Wiser Time          
By Your Side 
The Dolphins
Share The Ride
She Talks To Angels
Jealous Again
- encore -
Thick n' Thin

Located on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation, the land that this show was played on is not where you would want to step out of a time machine any time between the 1500s and late 1800s and go for a leisurely afternoon walk.  Once the Spanish arrived in the mid-1500s things turned sour, and when white settlers started showing up about 250 years later, all hell broke loose.  Throw in the Mexicans and other Indian tribes defending their land and trying to survive and you start to get an idea why it was called the Wild Wild West.  

Tonight's show began with 2008's most popular opener, Movin' On Down The Line, or Moving On Down The Line, or Move It On Down The Line, whichever you prefer.  While tough to track on Crowesbase as it pops up in setlists under all three titles, this was the first time it opened a show on the tour so far, unless you count the Firekeeper's Casino gig on July 24th, which technically came before the official start of the tour.  And speaking of 2008, was this really the first Horsehead in two years?  We think so. 

By this time, thanks to a little encouragement from Chris for everyone to get up and move around a little, people were finally starting to show signs of a pulse.  Black Moon Creeping and Make Glad helped to get a few more people out of their seats but it wasn't the full on rock show atmosphere it could have been.

Maybe the people who were still sitting down weren't into the show because they were thinking about Holloman Air Force Base, which is about 40 miles south of Mescalero and happens to be the sight where some of the Transformers movies were filmed.  It's also where a reported meeting between President Eisenhower and extraterrestrials took place in 1955.  Some say the meeting actually went down at Edwards AFB in 1954, and some attest that both stories are true.  Whatever the case, one of these meetings was supposedly the inspiration for the final scenes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  There's more to read on the subject here and here if you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole, and if you want to hear Ike warn the nation about dangers of our own doing, here's a clip from his prophetic farewell speech from 1961.

Back to the show...Ballad In Urgency came after Make Glad and crept into Wiser Time as it was meant to do, everyone took a turn and over twenty minutes later the spaceship finally landed back on Earth.  By Your Side, which some people wish was still known as If It Ever Stops Raining, was a mild surprise popping up in the middle of the set.  Then the always crowd-confusing Dolphins washed in and as usual left a few folks scratching their heads.  We're not sure it's best served being played at a casino show but this was the second time so far this tour that it's been played in the vicinity of slot machines.  Winding down, the trio of She Talks To Angels, Jealous Again and Remedy closed out the set and finally gave the gamblers who listen to FM radio a few tunes they were able to sing along to for the first time all night.

A rare encore appearance for Nonfiction complete with long jam sent more than a few toward the exits and Thick n' Thin capped off the night so all the New Mexico high rollers could head back to the craps table.  And with that, we're getting the hell out of here pronto before we accidentally stumble onto an ancient Apache burial ground.  Next stop:  the famous Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa... 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival - Aspen, Colorado - 9.5.10

The Black Crowes
Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival
Aspen, Colorado
September 5, 2010

Sting Me
Jealous Again
Twice As Hard
Soul Singing                                                             
Wiser Time
Poor Elijah (Tribute To Johnson)
Oh Josephine
Thorn In My Pride
Hard To Handle
She Talks To Angels
Been a Long Time (Waiting On Love)

It's nice to have goals in life.  They inspire people to push themselves.  If you're a professional Black Crowes fan, it's probably safe to say that hitting the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival was not one of the goals you laid out on your tour itinerary for 2010.  Festivals are like eating Chinese food - you walk away knowing you consumed something pretty good but you just don't quite feel satisfied.  You might as well walk around, enjoy the day, buy your sweetheart a lemonade and check out some of the sights and smells because if you're hoping for Dirty Hair Halo to show up in the set, you're going to be kicking dirt and walking angrily back to your car.  Stop expecting those things to happen at festivals for your own health, and for the sake of everyone else, stop whining about it when it doesn't happen.  

Yes, there were times in the past when the band would play a festival set to please no one but themselves.  And guess what, half the people were looking around going "Huh?"  There may have been a few dozen stoned weirdos in the crowd who had shit eating grins plastered across their faces but these days the point is to please as many people as possible, and that's why you don't get sets like this at festivals anymore. 

So we're not going to spend any time breaking this one down because you wouldn't get anything out of it even if we did.  We're not going to address the fact that Skynyrd was the headliner.  Wait, we just did.  Those of you who like to follow Gorman on the Twitter already know he took in the Wilco show the night before and described it thusly: 

Watching Wilco in Snowmass. Wow.  Seriously- this is ridiculous.

Those of you who read birdcage liners like US Magazine and watch garbage like Entertainment Tonight are probably more interested in gossipy tidbits like this.  We didn't find it particularly interesting but we did notice the wine list at Matsuhisa.  One bottle in particular caught our eye - Clos d'Ambonnay 1995 - which just happens to go for $9000 a pop.  Waiter, we'll take two.  By the way, Ambonnay is a village in the Montagne de Reims, France.  Speaking of France and 1995, did anybody happen to be at this show?  And if so, do you have a tape?  Let us know.

In any case, we're headed to Mescalero, New Mexico...but before we go, we leave you with a photo compilation below that someone was kind enough to put together and throw up on the YouTube.

BC Tour Blog Weirdness

As you may have noticed, the order of the show reviews has gone a bit out of whack.  Weird things are indeed afoot in the blogspot world of code. 

More reviews on the way...

The Depot - Salt Lake City, Utah - 8.31.10

The Black Crowes
The Depot
Salt Lake City, Utah
August 31, 2010

Midnight From the Inside Out
Evil Eye
My Morning Song
Stare It Cold
Let It Be Gone
Girl From A Pawnshop                                       
She Gave Good Sunflower
Poor Elijah (Tribute to Robert Johnson)
Shine Along
Twice As Hard
Wiser Time
- encore -
Jealous Again

How about that for a show opening?  Hello Salt Lake!  There almost seemed to be some kind of message or sentiment being communicated at The Depot tonight, perhaps in regard to where this show was taking place, and if you didn't at least wonder about that then we're guessing you're a card carrying member of Sleepwalkers Anonymous.  Seek help immediately and under no circumstances should you be operating any heavy machinery while you're awake because you may actually be asleep and just not know it.  You may also want to skip the next Black Crowes show you were planning on hitting until you get your mind right because you've just been assigned a night in the box.

Midnight From the Inside Out > Gone > Evil Eye to open the night.  No this was not a Halloween show, but for a Tuesday night in Salt Lake those first three tunes had to cause at least a few locals to head for the can to ditch their soiled drawers.  This is how you make babies cry.  However, there may have been some quiet tears and personal introspection in parts of the room during the singing of these words:

And Jesus can't save you,
though it's nice to think he'd try.
This is not to scare you;
this is to make sense of our time.
Do prophets speak in rhymes?
Then you die!

With roughly 60% of Salt Lake purportedly leaning to the Mormon side of religious persuasion, Evil Eye was probably the most humorous song selection the band could have possibly played.  Perhaps when it began to build, a few locals were wishing they had their wubby.  Evil Eye had been on the shelf for over a year, and Midnight From the Inside Out had been on vacation for two.  Before that show, Midnight had been on the shelf for three years - and while we're not going to test anyone on this later, the fact is that Midnight From the Inside Out has only been played three times in the past five years.  Even thought it leads off on Lions, that stat sort of makes it a rare occurrence to see live these days.  And it wasn't like the My Morning Song > Stare It Cold > Tambourine Music Got To Free Your Mind throwdown that followed let up on anyone.  It was on.  

Let It Be Gone made its third appearance of the tour and gave everyone a chance to regroup after being manhandled out of the gate.  Girl From a Pawnshop came whispering in for the fourth time this year and gave Luther another hall pass to go off.  She Gave Good Sunflower, which declares "I feel warm in your blizzard and your flood I crave," was unveiled to the world on the night of October 25, 1994 when Amorica was premiered.  On August 31, 2010, Sunflower was unveiled to the city of Salt Lake and the state of Utah for the first time.  It had never been played live there before, if you can believe that.

Poor Elijah came next and got an extension, as it has been given lately, which towards the end of the song can sometimes turn into one of the more exploratory jams the band takes off on these days.  After Rich takes his part for a couple of minutes and then turns to the rest of the band, they find a limb and go out on it.  Some versions of the Elijah jam truly feel like a group of musicians all playing off of, listening to and following one another, seeing where it goes and letting it take them there, no matter how long or short the journey.  Those are the moments some of us wait for, when it's as if the song told its old lady, "Honey I'm going out for milk and bread" and just never came back.  Except in this case, Elijah came back.  It always does.  It takes a while sometimes, and that's a good thing, but it comes home eventually.

Afterward came the wistfully content beauty Shine Along, which had yet to make an appearance this tour.  We're not sure where it's been, especially considering the acoustic set possibilities that exist for Until the Freeze tunes; nevertheless it came rolling out for the first time since the Fillmore last year.  Twice As Hard and a good long Wiser Time closed out the set, which by this time had added up to be a pretty damn good rock show.  Where else would you rather be on a Tuesday night?  For the encore tonight - a three song helping of Jealous Again, Willin' and Remedy.  Once Willin' began, it might have seemed like the night would end on a mellow note, but the band was innocent of all such charges and busted out a full throttle Remedy to send everyone packin'.  That was it.  Good night Salt Lake.  Thanks for coming.  Thoughts?

Vibe was great. Crowd was good for the most part, but it never fails...I ran into a drunk asshole who tried to start shit saying I was condescending him.

Adam soloed for 45 seconds on WT, then Luther and Rich went at it for a solid 6-8 minutes...it was easy to forget Adam, compared to previous versions. Elijah was the centerpiece, well over 10 minutes there too...

Here's a happy guy...

My 15th show and believe it or not my first STARE IT COLD and Willin'. I think the best crowd reaction of the night was when they went into the "hoedown" portion of MMS out of SIC.  The show was good enough that my friends and I decided in the parking lot after to hit the Vegas show.

And another happy gentleman, this one trekked over from St. Louis...

This show by far was the most killer opening 4 songs in row. I gave it a 9. Great venue and good times. On Rich's side on the rail I got the power progressions that I will remember for a long time to come. Midnight/gone/evil was just incredible. Willin awesome! Nice hanging with Folk from SLC. IT WAS A GREAT SHOW. 

That's all folks.  Time to move it on down the line to Missoula.  Before we go, here's an interview with Rich for your reading pleasure where he talks about the first show the band ever played in Salt Lake and a stage diver that managed to etch himself in the band's memory forever.  If you're into reading amusing show reviews, here's one from a guy who made us laugh.   Off we go.

Eagle River Pavilion - Eagle, Idaho - 9.2.10

The Black Crowes
Eagle River Pavilion
Eagle, Idaho
September 2, 2010

Good Morning Captain
Sting Me
Walk Believer Walk
Another Roadside Tragedy
Wiser Time
How Much For Your Wings
Bring On Bring On             
Greasy Grass River
Soul Singing
Oh Sweet Nuthin'
Hard To Handle
Jealous Again
- encore -
She Talks To Angels
Don't Do It

As Treasure Valley's newest concert venue, the Eagle River Pavilion is currently going through its inaugural concert season.  Having just opened in June with a debut show courtesy of Crosby, Stills and Nash, the outdoor venue has some residents who live across the river concerned about noise.  Wonder how this show grabbed them?  The whole thing has been an organic process in getting off the ground, with county commissioners having recently voted to approve a whole slate of summer concerts on the 24 acres of land that were originally zoned for residential development. 

Nearby Boise is an absolutely beautiful city in a beautiful setting with gorgeous scenery everywhere you look.  They have a pretty good college football team too, even if that jerk Nick Saban bags on them in the press.  If you've never been to Boise, put it on your travel list next time you plan on hitting the road.  In fact, make the entire Northwest your destination.  Just gas up, head in that general direction and thank us later.  Speaking of gassing up, a handful of folks who missed out on the show in Missoula drove the 400 miles (depending on your route) to catch this one - and if they hadn't already bought tickets, their unused stubs from the night before were honored to get them in the door. 

On to the show...Truth and Salvage was on hand with dry gear to warm the crowd and then it was time to get down.  After being played at what seemed like a constant clip last year, Good Morning Captain has been given something of a breather so far in 2010.  It's only seen the light of day three times.  Tonight it opened the show, followed by the reliable two-spot resident Sting Me, and things were off to a fine start.  There is no song that has ever been played in the two slot more than Sting Me.  It's not even close.  And even though you may think you've seen them play it live one too many times; the fact is the damn thing still brings it.  One of the most overlooked and underrated aspects of Sting Me has always been Gorman's drumming.  Same for Hotel Illness.  Neither song would be what it is without him.  Personally we prefer to see both songs appear later in sets, but those surprise 9th inning Sting Mes and Hotel Illnesses are rare these days.

So what about Walk Believer Walk?  Have you seen it live lately?  Probably not, because this was only the second time anyone has seen it this year.  Before that, the last time anyone saw it was at Higher Ground in Vermont last year.  Walk Believer Walk is arguably the dirtiest blues the band has ever written.  With Luther on stage we'd love to see some of the old blues covers return...B.B.'s Woke Up This Morning, Muddy's Champagne and Reefer, Sonny Boy's Sloppy Drunk, or if you want to dig really deep into the song bag, Jimmy Reed's It's a Sin.  They haven't played that one in 19 years.  And how big would the grin on your face be if they busted out Statesboro BluesHopefully as the tour moves forward we'll see one of these pop up out of nowhere.

Another Roadside Tragedy came rolling in next, and if there's a song that takes us back to the summer of 1997, this is it.  Luther has always sounded great on this one, clear back to the first time we ever saw him play it at Park West on the Warpaint front-to-back tour of 2008.  It's one of those tunes that really fits his style and when they play it with him it's like watching Wilder Valderrama in a roomful of hot women.  He just knows how to handle himself. 

Wiser Time followed with the always welcome How Much For Your Wings > Bring On freak turn trailing behind.  Early on with this lineup, How Much For Your Wings didn't seem to find that dark place it used to take you, and while it may never get as far out there as it did during the Europe '97 tour, it's still capable of making you look under your bed.  This was only the fifth time this lineup has played it live.  The jam that bridges these two songs together goes from ominous to hopeful, and it's transitions like this that illustrate how many different moods the band can call on at any given moment.  And to think these two songs were on the same record...

Greasy Grass River was appropriately played for the second time this year, and would have been even more appropriate the night before in Missoula had the show not been canceled.  If you're a history buff you've probably read plenty of stories about the Battle of Little Big Horn, or as the Lakota call it, the Battle of Greasy Grass Creek.  Others call it Custer's Last Stand.  Whatever you prefer, this is the part of the country where this song is supposed to be played.  What would have been really far out was if a little Crazy Horse tip of the cap had been offered in the form of the long overdue Come On Baby (Let's Go Downtown), but that didn't happen.

Finishing out the set was Soul Singing, the never late Oh Sweet Nuthin' and two from Shake Your Money Maker that you might know.  The encore started off with She Talks To Angels and got a bump with Don't Do It added for the hell of it.  Chris made a comment about macho security and encouraged them to enlist in the military.  More on that in a minute.  While the show didn't include any crazy surprises or rare treats, it did have a little bit of everything else...rock, blues, weird freakiness, jams, historical references, covers and hits.  Not many fan comments to share from this one, but we'll give you what we found...

killer show , anytime I get sting me, ART,soul singing and don't do it, I'm in heaven.  and the oh sweet nuthin was beautiful

This dude was left feeling a bit disappointed... 

Weekest show of the 5 I have seen this tour - 5. Granted it was a screwed up venue in a ritzy neighborhood. It was good to see CR mention the security deal.  Dont do it, Angels and Roadside were very nice. Luther had a good solo in Roadside. No thorn or MMS weird. 

But this guy was happy...

before the encore Chris said, "I'd like to thank the security for not letting some people have fun, Hey if you wanna work in the military police, then go to fucking afghanistan."

at that point the front of the stage was open for
people to move up.

sting me, art, oh sweet nuthin, greasy grass and dont do it...I was in heaven...killer set...truth & salvage was great too...

So there you go folks - once again this band displays its ability to make or break your night.  Some people walk away smiling, others walk away wanting something they didn't get.  That pretty much sums up why you need to get your butt to multiple shows and go on a couple of extended runs (if you can) while the band is on tour.  Take out a second mortgage on the house, sell your old lady's jewelry, pawn your golf clubs, knock off a 7-Eleven..whatever you have to do.  It's not like you haven't wondered how some people can afford to hit so many shows.  Think about it...