Friday, October 29, 2010

Thomas Wolfe Auditorium - Asheville, North Carolina - September 19, 2010

Located inside the Asheville Civic Center, the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is named after the famed writer of the same name, born and raised in Asheville.  If you've never read any Wolfe there's probably a greater chance that you've at least read a bit of Kerouac, who likely would never have picked up a pen had it not been for Wolfe.  To a lesser extent, the influence of Wolfe's writing also bled into Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut's work as well, and if you've never read anything by any of the writers mentioned here so far, you're doing yourself a disservice.  Like any Black Crowes fan who goes back seeking out the music that influenced Rich, Chris, Steve and all the other players who've played in the band over the years, if you're a fan of good prose you owe it to yourself to seek out the influences of great writers.

So next time you've got a trip planned by way of bus, train or plane - put your Blackberry or your iPhone in your pocket, leave that copy of Sports Illustrated or People magazine where it lies and take along instead a copy of Look Homeward, Angel...On The Road...Fahrenheit 451...or Slaughterhouse-Five.  Feed your brain with quality and put the junk food down.  That's our recommendation of the day.  On to the show...

Off to a fun start courtesy of Jealous Again, the acoustic set tonight got rolling early and had the Asheville crowd raring to go.  For you Chris'ism biographers out there, you were likely scribbling furiously during the greetings and jokes that came before one of the better Hotel Illnesses of the tour so far, which has sort of become the Sting Me of the acoustic sets.  And since Steve was already out front, Whoa Mule seemed like a possibility right about then...and sure as eggs is eggs, suspicion became reality.  By this point things already seemed a little tighter than the night before in Charlotte, and that was confirmed with a fine version of Lost My Drivin' Wheel that Chris sang with some serious feeling.  Maybe it was Luther's money-in-the-bank slide solo.  Maybe it was the Elvis shirt.  Whatever it was, when you're making your live tour compilation once this thing winds down, Drivin' Wheel from Asheville better be on there.   Here's a sneaky clip to show you what we're talking about that unfortunately got cut short due to a security lady that came along and busted up the proceedings.  You might say she was a hard headed woman just as mean as she could be...

After a run through What Is Home, the Ballad > Wiser journey lifted off and when Luther got a little lost during the Ballad solo, Steve tried to give him a re-entry point with a few rolls and fills that were ultimately all for naught.  So be it.  Every song can't be perfect.  Imperfections are what make things real.  And that's all right.  As a result or not, Luther seemed to hang back a little on the jam into Wiser while Rich played some acoustic slide and things stayed mellow for the most part.  During Wiser, by the time Rich had put the 12-string down and plugged in we began to lean toward the opinion that night in and night out, his personal time during Wiser Time is the best part of the song.  He just goes off, every time. 

The second appearance of East Virginia Blues in three nights offended no one.  Just a perfect song for any Crowes acoustic set - anywhere, anytime - but especially for this weekend run through North Carolina.  Some really nice piano playing from Adam.  Oh Josephine made only its second acoustic appearance of the tour so far and concluded with a laid back outro that made us wonder how good a Hammond B-3 might sound here, and then Nonfiction drifted in and went on its usual way for about 9 minutes.  A syncopated Chris vocal drove My Morning Song to the impending march toward tambourine revival and resurrection but for a Sunday just a little more church piano would have taken the congregation up to the pearly gates.  The second Miracle To Me of the tour and the first to arrive in acoustic form closed out the set in fine fashion as one of those songs that comes around just enough to remain fresh.  Miracle To Me would have fit right in on Band.

After Move It On Down The Line sauntered in with its signature keyboard Adam intro, the electric set was off and running, only to run smack into a nasty, filthy, disgustingly pleasing Black Moon Jam that would have healed the sick, raised the dead and made the little girls talk outta their heads.  As a friend mentioned recently, "The Black Moon Jam gets played so infrequently nowadays that it is a HUGE treat."  We couldn't agree more.  It's taken on many forms over the years, like this and this and this, but since 2005 has stayed relatively in that same foul, putrid vat of the devil's quicksand.  A good Black Moon Jam is like bathing in goblin manure.  You get that stink all over you and just stand there smiling.  Commendable job by Luther during Black Moon Creeping's solo, playing those tough runs that only Ford can really nail.  A fine, fine 2010 version for sure and not bogged down by an over-done drawn out ending.

It was almost a crime for a tune as pretty as Let It Be Gone to be made to follow, but the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department never showed to lock anyone up in the jailhouse so it must have been deemed legal.  Then the first Greenhorn of the tour and the first in nearly a year popped up out of nowhere and proceeded to take everyone along on a mellow little mid-song jam that came back around and concluded with a really nice ending and chorus.  The next 45 minutes were comprised by three songs:  Poor Elijah, Downtown Money Waster and Thorn In My Pride.   Elijah went way out on a limb at one point before coming back in with some funky organ sounds from Adam and Money Waster saw Rich leading everyone along on a jam that sounded too organized to have been a total improv but with players this good sometimes you can't tell.

As you can see by the setlist above, Oh Sweet Nuthin' was slated to come next but was scratched at the last minute due to a lingering pulled hamstring suffered backstage in Raleigh two days earlier.  With an off day coming up after Asheville it was determined that a few more days rest would be best.  As the healing process moves along we fully expect a return to action within the next week or so.  And don't buy into the popular theory that the band cut it from the setlist because they were running late.  Not true. 

Hard To Handle and Remedy closed out the electric set and had plenty of folks in the crowd singing, dancing and carrying on, which Chris thanked everyone for prior to an encore consisting of She Talks To Angels and the always welcome Hot Burrito #2, hiccup start and all.  If you were looking for a good time tonight, your wish came true.

A few more pics below and then it's down to Jacksonville for a Tuesday night double set show at the Florida Theater.

More pics here courtesy of David Oppenheimer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Road Runner Mobile Amphitheater - Charlotte, NC - 9.18.10

The Black Crowes
Road Runner Mobile Amphitheater
Charlotte, North Carolina
September 18, 2010

Acoustic Set                                                         Electric Set
Remedy                                                          And the Band Played On
Soul Singing                                                   High Head Blues
Hotel Illness                                                   Greasy Grass River
Downtown Money Waster                           Ballad In Urgency>
Good Friday                                                   Wiser Time
Do Right Woman, Do Right Man                 There's Gold in Them Hills
How Much for Your Wings>                        Darling of the Underground Press
Bring On Bring On                                        Jealous Again
Roll Old Jeremiah                                         Go Faster
Welcome to the Goodtimes                         No Speak No Slave
Thorn In My Pride
She Talks to Angels                                     -Encore- 
                                                                      Thick n' Thin 
                                                                      Shake Your Money Maker

Night two of the 3-night run through North Carolina brought the band to the Road Runner Mobile Amphitheater in Charlotte for a Saturday night two-setter out under the moonlight.  This Live Nation-operated venue is located inside the Music Factory, an entertainment compound situated in downtown Charlotte.  As you can see by the layout map it has several options to hit for anyone out and about looking for a little corporate sponsored nightlife.  Tonight, the backside was the place to be.  And no self respecting Black Crowes fan would be caught dead hanging out at Crobar anyway...right?

After a loose Remedy and cruise-controlled Soul Singing opened the evening, it was around the halfway point of Hotel Illness when the laid back and relaxed tone of the first set settled in.  Luther did some fine electric mandolin picking on a straight up Downtown Money Waster that exited quicker than most Money Wasters are known to do, making room for Good Friday...and even though some folks think this song is best played on a Friday night, don't forget that "Saturday is no good because we've got a show."  Lyrical trickery.

The crowd was then presented with a sweet sounding Do Right Woman, Do Right Man  that raises the question, "Why don't they play this one just a little bit more often?"  Last played in Chicago a few weeks prior, this is one that never fails to be exactly what you need every time it comes along.  If we were going to rank the covers over the years that this band sounds best playing - Do Right Woman, Do Right Man  would definitely hold a spot in the Top 20.  We may even get around to putting together the BC Tour Blog's Top 25 (or 50) Black Crowes Covers before the year is over but don't hold us to it just yet - we're still trying to catch up on these show reviews...

Coming on the heels of Do Right, a slightly slowed down and dragging How Much For Your Wings continued the loose vibe of the evening followed by a 5-minute-or-so jam that crossed the bridge to Bring On, Bring On and headed over the hill to a stand-alone Roll Old Jeremiah that included some nice piano playing from Adam and smooth slide work from Luther before the band brought it home following the lead of Gorman's drum rolls.  Welcome to the Goodtimes and She Talks To Angels sandwiched a Thorn In My Pride that had the crowd clapping a beat along to Rich's breakdown that got kicked up a notch as Joe came in talking on the congas.  Chris laid down a fairly short harp solo and got out of the way for everyone to deliver a sort of restrained mini-jam that echoed the laid back nature of the acoustic set.  For anyone asking for shorter Thorns, you couldn't complain about the length of this one.

The electric set started out with a 12-minute And The Band Played On that damn near went into Pink Floyd territory a few times before it was over.  There might even be a dash of the Good Friday chord structure hiding in here somewhere.  If you find yourself working a fat doobie while the band lays down the jam on the end of this one, rest assured there are a lot of people in the world not doing quite as well as you are at that exact moment.  We like the end of And The Band Played On because it doesn't peak with the conventional guitar solo like a lot of jams; it's a piece of music that's going someplace and gets there without any walking on the high wire.

Perfectly followed by High Head Blues, there may not have been a better song selection they could have put in this spot.  Just a spot-on continuation of the mood created by And The Band Played On's jam.  The crowd was pleased.  The jam on this one may not be the freight train that it used to be but it still clocks in and goes to work.  Another underplayed tune, Greasy Grass River, made a welcome appearance in the three slot behind High Head Blues and again raised the question, "Why don't they play this one just a little bit more often?"  The re-worked intro that was introduced in '05 and became a hallmark of that tour is still intact and is another one of those little pieces of Black Crowes music that doesn't sound like anything else in their catalog.  It always sets a tone and puts its toes on the edge of the window ledge before jumping off and slamming into those descending chords that make up the song.  Probably safe to pontificate that this intro would have elevated Lions a bit had it existed back when that album was cut...then again there are a variety of other things you could put on the table that would have elevated Lions...songs like Love Is Now and Bled To Death as opposed to Ozone Mama or Come On, but hey why go there.  What's done is done.  

Okay fine, we'll go there.  Here's a quick, off-the-top-of-our-head time machine fix on Lions to take it somewhere it could have gone...

Midnight From The Inside Out
Bled To Death
Lickin' (new chorus)
Losing My Mind (no violins)
Love Is Now
Cypress Tree                          
Young Man Old Man
Cosmic Friend
Soul Singing
Greasy Grass River (w/ vocal intro)
Lay It All On Me 

It's never healthy for Black Crowes fans to look into the past and play the "What if" game, unless you're hoping for an aneurysm but it's impossible not to sometimes.  And no that's not a typo - we left Lickin' in there on purpose because the damn thing has a kick ass riff that is unfortunately haunted by an abominable chorus and some sketchy lyrics.  Musically it's there.  Re-work that one a little and it's good to go on this record.  Anyway, Memory Lane is a dead end street so let's jump off and get back to this Charlotte show from the year 2010.

Ballad In Urgency had a great jam on the end with some killer moments from Rich, Steve and especially Luther, whose tone had some nastiness to it as things wound down on their way into Wiser Time.  Twenty-seven minutes of Ballad > Wiser tonight.  The rarely played There's Gold In Them Hills served as everyone's recovery period and also took home the trophy for slowest song of the night, as the crowd was then treated to a bit of Darling of the Underground Press as a reward for hanging in there.  Jealous Again made a lot of people happy and was followed by an odd late set appearance from four-year absent Go Faster, which made a lot of people go, "Say what?"  Has it really been four years since this one last saw daylight?  Is it back too soon?  Let's not forget, Charlotte is prime Nascar country and Go Faster is apparently on a popular race car video game so maybe it seemed like a good idea to bust it out.  Definitely unexpected, that's for sure.

No Speak No Slave rounded the final turn and closed out the set, as a rough opening to Thick n' Thin kicked off the encore and Shake Your Money Maker crossed the finish line and locked things down to send the people packing.  Wait a minute, has it been a whole year since Shake Your Money Maker was last played?  Wow.  Really?  Next time you're at a Black Crowes show, be sure to fill out a comment card and drop it in the box or hand it to one of the bus drivers.  Make sure you request more blues tunes.  There's a little space on the back of the card titled "Suggestions for the Band" - take advantage of it.  Just don't complain about one of the toilets being clogged at the venue; that's a maintenance issue and is not a band responsibility.

All in all, this was a night sprinkled with a handful of tunes that got dusted off after being on the shelf for a while.  Next stop Pastoral?  How about Grinnin'?  Did we mention that we stopped for gas in a seedy part of town after the show and some dude came up to us talkin' about, "Can't a brother get a Song of the Flesh?  Just one god damn Song of the Flesh?"  We felt his pain.  He was hurtin'.  We bought him a 40, flipped him some change and told him everything was gonna be alright.  That may or may not be a true story.

From the Road Runner Mobile Amphitheater in Charlotte...that's all folks, see you in Asheville.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Uptown Amphitheater - Raleigh, NC - 9.17.10

The Black Crowes
Raleigh Downtown Amphitheater
Raleigh, North Carolina
September 17, 2010

Acoustic Set

Cold Boy Smile
Under A Mountain
Garden Gate
East Virginia Blues (1st time played)
What Is Home
Ballad In Urgency >              
Wiser Time
Whoa Mule
Thorn In My Pride
My Morning Song

Electric Set

Halfway To Everywhere
I Ain't Hiding
Twice As Hard
A Conspiracy
Title Song
Downtown Money Waster>
Share The Ride
She Talks To Angels
Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution
Sting Me
Oh Sweet Nuthin'

There might not be a smoother intro in this band's catalog right now than the music that precedes Cold Boy Smile and the song that follows.  So good.  The sweet sounds of the intro tonight went for a good three minutes and could well have gone on for another five or six and nobody would have minded.  Fine stuff coming from the stage. 

"Nice to see y'all this evening, for us to get together here in
the Raleighwood and share some moonlight"

Words spoken by a man from Georgia who lives in California standing in Raleigh wearing an 'I heart Tulsa' shirt.  Things had started off well...just easy, nice, laid back and comfortable.  Nobody was in a hurry to get anywhere.

A first-time cover of the East Virginia Blues was unveiled next and the good people of North Carolina were thrilled to hear their state name-checked in the first verse.  Luther just doin' the damn thing on the electric mandolin, down home acoustic picking from Rich and a little harmony on the verses of this one had the acoustic set batting 1.000 at this point, going a flush 4-for-4 right out of the gate.  Raleigh had themsleves a good old fashioned hootenanny.  Keeping things going were the really nice middle verses and back end of What Is Home with Luther again laying it down while Adam talked back on the keys during the night's first jam.

A ten-minute Ballad In Urgency followed with some great moments toward the end as Wiser Time came along...and if you will, allow us to spend the next long paragraph talking about Wiser Time from tonight.  We've decided that from here on out, we're not going to call Adam, Luther and Rich's individual parts in Wiser Time "solos" anymore.  From now on we will refer to these moments as personal time.  After Adam had his, Luther either jumped on a surfboard made out of lightning or a hovercraft from the future he had hiding in front of his monitor because he went completely off the reservation for a few minutes.  Virgil turned to Eunice and said, "That there's a skunk tone, a real lip curler."  And he was right; it did sound pretty foul.  There's no photographic evidence to confirm this but somebody else claimed at one point Luther's eyes rolled back up into his head during a simultaneous remote viewing session but our office hasn't been able to confim this.  We'll simply say his personal time was well spent.  Right about then, just as everyone in the crowd ran out of air freshener, Rich came along and it got even nastier.  His first few notes sounded like he was talking with his guitar.  It was like a class demonstration on filfthiness.  Any moment where everyone else steps back and lets Rich go off on a journey of personal time is time well spent for everyone.  It could be during I Ain't Hiding, Oh Sweet Nuthin, the Tied Up and Swallowed breakdown, a Share the Ride jam or Wiser Time..whenever he's pile-driving the train downhill and hits those corners going full-on filfth you have to just stand there and go, "Damn."  Like we've been saying here all tour long...whether or not you're a fan of the "new" Wiser Time, whether you'd be happier than a thief in the vault to hear it every night or if you think it gets played too much, the fact is it gives everyone in the room a chance to watch while these guys just play.  There's a difference between watching Rich play a song straight through, like say Twice As Hard that doesn't veer off course improvisationally or go anywhere opposed to watching him jump off a cliff and not hit the ground.  It's a fun ride, even when it makes your lip curl.

Whatever came next was going to get sucked up in the wake of what just went down, and Smile just happened to be the unassuming victim.  Not many people knew what they were hearing.  Smile was an unfortunate bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yes, this was the first full-band performance of Smile but it kinda came and went without much excitement.  Maybe the crowd was still getting used to seeing all the paint that peeled off the walls during Rich's playing on Wiser Time; after all this is their brand new downtown Raleigh Amphitheater, recently opened in June of 2010.  Smile was just enough of a breather for everyone by the time Whoa Mule came around that things were rolling  again.  A quick note must be made of how excited some folks get when they see Steve come out front to sit and play the hand drum.  We guarantee that there are grown men out there who would volunteer to carry Steve like Julius Caesar from his kit to the front of the stage to assume controls of the hand drum.  Yes, accompanied by the sound of several deep-voiced "Steeeeeeeve" chants filling the room, the drummer man himself counted off for the opening harmony part of Whoa Mule to commence and the front porch North Carolina hootenanny had returned.

A 12-minute Thorn In My Pride followed and was nothing if not another opportunity for Rich to have more personal time. This time there was aide and extra tar in the form of some back alley funk from Joe on the congas that just about made your lip curl up again.  The question is, when someone is that funky, does the funk enhance the man or does the man enhance the funk?  It's a chicken and egg sort of thing.  We're getting sidetracked.  Just don't overlook Joe and what he's bringing from his spot on stage every night.  And even if Luther fell apart just a tad on his solo coming out of the break, those are real moments and it was fun watching him try to get where he was headed.  Might not have even been the punchiest acoustic Morning Song of the tour afterward but the set as a whole was a winning lottery ticket that everyone got to split. 

There wasn't enough time during set break to head over to Hillsborough Street for a Char-Grill Burger and a chocolate shake but next time you're in Raleigh make sure you hit it up and grab a sack for the road.  A Raleigh institution since 1959, read about them here and try not to drool looking at the pictures.  If you enjoy your meal, please thank Mr. Steve Gorman for name-dropping Char-Grill via the What's Wrong With Steve entry from March 4th, 2010.    

The electric set opened with a 10-minute Halfway To Everywhere > Jam that got everybody moving and turned the evening from front porch hootenanny to a get up get-get down.  Lately we find ourselves looking forward more to the juicy jam on this one than the verses and chorus in the song, just waiting for it, and tonight's version of the Halfway to Everywhere jam started off in Twelfth Dimension Outer Space Funkland. 

It didn't last quite long enough though as Chris came in and began steering the ship toward Luther's solo, which tractor beamed everything back to the mothership before the audio signals were able to reach out beyond the exosphere and get tracked by any Iguanoids out on night patrol.  Conversely, the funk coming from I Ain't Hiding may have reached past the 9th Sector and gone well into the colonized zone beyond Lyra and Gordan  424, but who can really say for sure.  No shapeshifters were seen grooving at the show but then again, going unnoticed is their business and has ensured their survival for centuries so there may have been a few lurking around.  Just be wary next time you're at a show when a funkfest like this breaks out...take a quick glance around at your neighbors mid-funk and make sure nobody is sporting any reptilian skin.  The funk makes 'em break out...and under no circumstances are you to make any eye contact or engage these creatures should you spot one; just be cool and wait until a slow song comes along so you can pretend you have to hit the can. 

But there was no leaving unless you wanted to miss a fun Conspiracy that kept the vibe going with a really nice keyboard section from Adam...then a freak favorite, Title Song, sauntered in before Downtown Money Waster came bouncing along with a piano-driven jam that came to a hiccuping halt and picked back up for some Rich slide work that he may or may not have intended to sound like Lowell George licks.  In any case, Raleigh had a legit Little Feat thing brewing in the air, but not in the form of one of their songs...more in the form of that Lowell sound and feel.  Another melody morphed out of these licks that felt like something you've heard before but can't quite put your finger on.  Great moments a plenty on the jam coming out of Money Waster, which smoothly found its way to Share The Ride and another jam that brought all kinds of great playing, especially Luther on the slide.  Downtown Money Waster > Share The Ride crossed the finish line with a time of 22:15, which was good enough to qualify for regionals later this fall.

She Talks To Angels was next and made a lot of people in the crowd happy.  Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution trailed behind and made us think if Hotel Illness and Could I've Been So Blind ever decided to combine DNA they might produce a hybrid reminiscent of this Warpaint tune.  No word if any members of the NCSDAR were in attendance.  A super rare set-closing Sting Me appeared next and suggested that two shows in a row with late set Sting Me appearances might be the beginning of a trend.  You may think otherwise, but an early set Sting Me is not like a late set Sting Me.  One drives; the other swings.  One is tight; the other is loose.  Listen to them.  It's real.  This truth has existed since 1996 and continues to live on in 2010. 

Tonight's encore consisted of Oh Sweet Nuthin' and Remedy to close out the night, as everyone in Raleigh got to have "one last dance under the light of the moon."  This was no doubt one of the better two set shows so far and you would be wise to grab the BC click here.  

Some sneaky owners of a cell phone or digital camera were brave enough to roll tape during Oh Sweet Nuthin' and post it online so we'll share it here after some thoughts from a few folks.  Here we go...

Killer show, Rich and Luther are both tearing it up. Chris sounds as good as I can remember since 05-06, just fantastic. One incredible song after another last night


everything was perfect. THe acoustic set was fuckin amazing


An amazing show tonight! Great sets on paper without a doubt, but I have not heard them sound this good since 06. Smile!  Are kidding me(?). Title Song was the best I've ever heard it played (period). Chris' voice was damn near perfect.

and another...

Such a great show last night, probably the best Crowes show I've seen since '06 or '07.  Title Song, Halfway, and 1st full band performance of Smile were incredible.  The band were in top form last night, too; this is the best I've seen this line up play.

And off we go to stop #2 on the 3-night North Carolina run...Charlotte bound...

Tennessee Theatre - Knoxville, Tennessee - 9.15.10

The Black Crowes
Tennessee Theatre
Knoxville, Tennessee
September 15, 2010

Acoustic Set

Welcome to the Goodtimes
Jealous Again
Fork in the River                                         
Whoa Mule
Ballad In Urgency >
Wiser Time
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You
Good Friday
My Morning Song
Bad Luck Blue Eyes, Goodbye

Electric Set

Soul Singing
Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)
Girl From a Pawnshop
P25 London
A Train Still Makes A Lonely Sound   
Nonfiction >
Thorn's Progress >
Spider in the Sugar Bowl tease >
Thorn In My Pride
Sting Me
Hard To Handle
- encore -
Shine Along
Boomer's Story

We'd like you to look at the above setlist.  Okay, now look at it again.  Don't just skim through it.  Look at it.  Think about it.  Only one cover in each set, not including the encore, and not one unreleased song in the entire show...seems like it might have been a fairly standard evening, no?  Yet if you were there, you never knew what was coming next.  A night of guessing from beginning to end.  Little things like the Goodtimes opener, Fork In The River popping up early followed by Whoa Mule, the surprise appearance of Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You, Good Friday sneaking in the backdoor and Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye having the balls to close out the set...fantastic.  The whole first half of the night was like a nice, relaxing smoke out of your favorite corncob pipe on the front porch.  The only thing that might have made it any better would've been if everyone in the audience were all given their own personal rocking chair for the acoustic set.  Just a laid back, relaxed first half of the evening.

Shows like this are why seeing the band on multiple nights is paramount.  Don't listen to people who weren't there that try to tell you based on looking at the set that it was nothing special.  These are the same people who attend shows with sets similar to this and then tell you it kicked all kinds of ass.  It's like looking in the paper at the box score of a football game seeing that Chris Johnson scored on a 9-yard TD run.  You think "Eh, a 9-yard run is nothing special," until you actually see the run, and then you say, "God damn that was a nice run."  This is pretty much how it goes when describing Crowes fans who glance at box scores, er setlists and pass judgment.  When you're searching for whatever it is you seek in your day-to-day life, when you long for a little spontaneity, a little unpredictability...for Black Crowes fans the answer is sometimes as simple as sets like this.  You don't need Bewildered, Grinnin', Exit, or Pastoral to have a good time.  And where else would you have rather been anyway than in there watching them play?  

Back to this business of looking at the setlist - check out the first five tunes in the electric set.  Impossible to have predicted that sequence.  Not knowing what's coming next is one of the greatest feelings a Black Crowes fan has at a show.  When you start to get a feel for what's around the next corner like you're a clairvoyant BC psychic, the beat in your feet tends to lose some of that action.  (See: Festivals)  It's not a common occurrence, but if you've been to enough shows you've probably felt that feeling before.  And by "enough shows" we're looking at all you freaks out there in all shapes and, women, long-haired, short-haired, tatted up, ink free, pierced or not pierced, rocking a Willie Nelson T or chillin' in the Tommy Bahama shirt your wife got you for Father's matter who you are, chances are if you're reading this blog you are a gold card carrying member of the freakshow clan and at times you feel like you have extra-sensory perception into what direction a show is headed after a few songs.  Well, tonight in Knoxville all your powers were rendered useless.  

After Soul Singing opened the electric set, your money may have been on a Sting Me, Another Roadside Tragedy or maybe a Share The Ride to have come next.  Well, as Gomer Pyle used to say...Surprise! Surprise!  It's Been a Long Time Waiting On Love and an even longer time waiting on this one to move up earlier in the set but finally, tonight it got relocated.  We'd like to see it show up more in the middle portion of shows and hopefully we will during the coming weeks.  After Been A Long Time worked everyone up early on in the second set with its bad ass outro jam, Girl From A Pawnshop drifted in to allow folks a nice cooling down period.  And just as you wiped the sweat from your brow it was surprise time again as P25 London appeared out of thin air...and ps - if you're not a P25 fan, how about you cry me a monsoon?  Get busy on it.  While yer at it, make it deep.  No other band in the world could write or play a song like P25.

A Train Still Makes A Lonely Sound even when it rolls through Appalachian country, and tonight it made that sound for the first time in a few weeks since it last rolled down the tracks on its way through St. Louis.  This town and this song are like Fred and Ginger, Abbott and Costello, Tango and Cash...they're fine on their own but in the end they're meant to be arm in arm.  It was also played last time the band rolled through town and if you haven't put 2+2 together yet on where we're going with this, maybe you should read the lyrics...

It reminds me of the girl
That came from Knoxville town
And how on that April day
When she took this old boy down 

Oh Tennessee you got me runnin'

And I'm not coming back this time
Way out west is where I'm going
To forget the one I left behind

And we're back.  Following the Knoxville tip o' the cap, Nonfiction settled in with a nice jam that segued into Thorn's Progress, which again found its way into the requisite Spider in the Sugar Bowl Blues tease before rolling into Thorn In My Pride.  By the time we got through Steve's solo, Chris' harp breakdown and the wrap up of Thorn, more than 30 minutes of the electric set had been eaten.  That's a big piece of pie right there, and a lot of fans have been clamoring for Thorn to go down to Cozumel for a few days and make room for more songs.  Still, even if you've seen it before, don't forget these are the last few weeks of Black Crowes you're going to have for a long, long time.  Like Tom Keifer sang...

And guess what, the surprises weren't done yet as the rare late set Sting Me reared its head and made sure nobody checked out too soon after the Nonfiction > Thorn marathon.  Hard To Handle closed the set down and a mellow encore of Shine Along and Boomer's Story brought the night to a close.  Shine Along was even a surprise, and if you say otherwise you'd be wrong because it has never appeared during an encore before.  Lyrics indirectly made for the times too -

I've been out on the rails too long 
Got a mind that is worried
That the end is coming up on me strong

By the way, Boomer's Story was written by a guy named Ry Cooder.  If you don't have any of his records, 8-track tapes, cassettes or cds at home you need to find a way to make it happen.  If all you know of this man's catalog are Crow Black Chicken and Boomer's Story because The Black Crowes have covered them, you're committing a heinous crime against yourself.  Start here, make a pit stop here and see what you think about this but don't stop.  Keep going.  Put the words "Find more Ry Cooder music" at the top of your to-do list.  

So that's it folks.  On to North Carolina and the town of Raleigh we go...

Monday, October 18, 2010

House of Blues - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - 9.14.10

The Black Crowes
House of Blues
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
September 14, 2010

Move It On Down The Line
Sting Me
Jealous Again
Another Roadside Tragedy
Wiser Time
Let It Be Gone
Sister Luck       
My Morning Song ->
Stare It Cold ->
My Morning Song
Shine Along
Soul Singing
She Talks To Angels
I Ain't Hiding

The second South Carolina show of the week brought the band to North Myrtle Beach and the second House of Blues show of the tour.  This was a one set burner that had people singing at the top of their lungs off and on all night as the feeling of "Enjoy 'em while you still have the chance" continues to permeate the air at the band's every stop. 

The last Black Crowes show at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach was on October 4, 2009...only two songs were repeated tonight that were in last year's setlist (Soul Singing and Jealous Again).  In two shows, that totals thirty-one songs with only two repeats.  Statistics suggest that that's a pretty good return for everyone who attended both shows.  While the '09 show was heavy on Before the Frost/After the Freeze material, this one covered more ground. 

After a quiet entrance, Adam began his intro to Move It On Down The Line and it was time to get it on.  Something about hearing the opening of this represents a turning point in the band's career and a signature call to arms for the current lineup.  Move It On Down The Line has opened more shows than any other song with this lineup and it stands out as one of the new era leaders among the latter day catalog.  In fact, considering the circumstances of the tour, it might even be the most forgivable song to "overplay" given its lyrical sentiment and reassurance.  Don't forget though, we still have three months of shows left, so let's not get all teary-eyed just yet...

Shocking as it may be, Sting Me was played in the #2 slot tonight.  Oh sure, we know what you're thinking - "How odd."  Just don't overlook the fact that it smoked.  After another early set appearance for Jealous Again, we moved on to Another Roadside Tragedy and the first jam of the night.  Rich and Steve drove the bus on this trip with Sven carrying the groceries and Adam greasing the wheels...and while old school Roadside Tragedies went mellow and dreamy in the middle section, new school Tragedies rock more and last longer.  During this one, Rich was playing some mean, nasty licks and runs and Steve was playing around with build-ups and crescendos that had a tiny little taste of Thorn's Progress in their spirit.  The maraca-driven outro was drawn out more too, and this is a good thing.  At times, the strength of this band is often found in the subtle moments of songs.  This Tragedy was a long one, clocking in well past the ten-minute mark.  

No breaks for mercy were given as a long stand-alone Wiser Time followed and then it was on to the fourth appearance this tour of The Grease Band's Let It Be Gone.  And speaking of The Grease Band, we recommend that you watch this video...

Seriously, how good is that - broken strings and all? 

Back to the show...

With Chris currently singing his ass off night in and night out - and don't take that for granted - songs like Sister Luck have been getting a little extra treatment and feeling lately.  If you've been to a show or two already you know this already, but if your first of the tour is yet to come, rest assured that the man is not singing like some beat up dog walking down on Broadway.  He's feeling it.  The whole band is.  Sometimes you have to wonder how his voice can keep it up 4-5 nights a week...week after week after week.  Green tea?  Lemon juice?  Who knows.  The good vibes of this tour are certainly accommodating everyone on stage.

What came next was My Morning Song dropping into Stare It Cold and then back around for the Croweology Morning Song breakdown.  This has been one of the new sights and sounds of the tour and even if some folks voice their opinions in wishing for no mid-Morning Song interruptions, we remind them that over the years it's gone off in many different directions and gone to many freaky places before coming back from outer space and landing safely on terra firma before ascending yet again on its way home.  Dropping straight into Stare It Cold is but one of many different detours the song has taken over the years.  Personally, we long for a return to the days of Australia '92 when On That Hallow Day dropped in, complete with lyrics.  That was Nasty with a capital N.

Shine Along was next, and even though the camera/cell phone ban has been in full effect for a couple of weeks now, as you can see here, people are still sneaking video at the shows.  Soul Singing, She Talks To Angels and Remedy wound the show down with the latter two serving as loud sing-alongs for all the happy people in the house.  Moving on to one of the strangest encore pairings in Black Crowes history, tonight saw the first and likely last 1-2 combo of Feathers and I Ain't Hiding.  Not in a million years would anyone have ever predicted that encore.  Somebody described it as taking a lude and chasing it with a rail.  In any case, it happened.  Here's an old Feathers from Gainesville, Florida on April 8, 1995 for you while we're on the subject...a night in which a filthy Black Moon Jam followed.  That show falls under the category of "Tapes Worth Owning."

And here's an interview with Steve promoting the Myrtle Beach show if you'd like to read it, followed by a quick take below from somebody who enjoyed themselves...

It was a kick ass electric rock show last night. ART was jammed out for what seemed 15min. and it was just sick. The one song I was just hoping would pop up last night.  The band had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands all night and deservedly so. These guys are so tight right now it's ridonkulous. 

There you go.  That's that, mattress man.  On to Knoxville...