Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Verizon Wireless Theater - Houston, Texas - 9.24.10

The Black Crowes
Verizon Wireless Theater
Houston, Texas
September 24, 2010

- acoustic -
Soul Singing
Hotel Illness
Under A Mountain                           
Good Friday
What Is Home
Ballad In Urgency ->
Wiser Time
Driving Wheel
Downtown Money Waster 
My Morning Song

- electric -
Halfway To Everywhere
I Just Want To See His Face
Another Roadside Tragedy
Share The Ride
Move It On Down The Line
High Head Blues
Thorn In My Pride
- encore -
Jealous Again 

With the by now familiar one-two opening of Soul Singing and Hotel Illness, this two set Friday night show in Houston was off and rolling.  If you're a stat nerd, you're well aware that this is the fourth time this particular coupling of songs has opened a show so far on the tour.  And since we've already established what a huge nerd you are, we both know that you're also hip to the fact that these two songs have been spotted twice in the two and three spots as well.  Now, the reason you know this is because you spend way too much time looking at Black Crowes setlists.  You know it, we know it and it's a safe bet your better half knows it too.  If you're not careful, one of these days you're going to become so consumed that one day you're going to wake up and decide to start a Black Crowes blog.  And then you'll really be ostracized.  

But let's get back to the show.  After the opening two numbers, another one-two combo came along in the form of a pair of Three Snakes tunes...Under A Mountain and Good Friday, the latter of which you have permission to view below.

Following that was What Is Home trailed by Ballad > Wiser, which yet again provided some of the best moments of the show with Rich's playing during Wiser.  Whatever you say about Wiser Time on this tour, the first thing out of your mouth better pertain to the absolute assault and battery he's been committing on this song.  It might be hands down the most underrated aspect of the entire tour.  Have you heard Wiser Time so many times that your brain shuts off when it starts up now?  If so, what a shame.  This song is no longer about a keyboard solo that people whine about too much; it's about a guitar clinic that gets criminally overlooked repeatedly.  

A 9-minute Driving Wheel then made a welcome appearance, albeit not altogether surprising if you're a keen observer of lyrics and location...

Just came up on the midnight special
Baby, how ’bout that
My car broke down in Texas
She stopped dead in her tracks

...and handed the baton off to Downtown Money Waster, which got in and out in a hurry at under five minutes like it had a train to catch.  The second appearance of Smile so far this tour came next, this time placed in the much friendlier confines of not having to follow a 25-minute Ballad > Wiser marathon that left people wiping the sweat from their brow.  While Smile may not blow anyone's doors off, it does appease the weirdos sitting at home who don't actually attend the shows yet measure their greatness by the rarity of the songs that make up the setlist.  To some, the greatest Black Moon Jam ever played pales in comparison to a mid-tempo unreleased track's better-late-than-never debut.  To each his own we say.  Closing out the acoustic set was a crowd-pleasing Morning Song that got a little extra push from Chris on the tail end and sent everybody into the break on a high note. 

Even though it wasn't quite Houston Beer Week yet, before you could say "Bartender," Halfway To Everywhere dropped in with its jam and got everybody out of their seats to do some shit kickin'.  With Rich working the Wah Wah and Steve laying down a greasy groove, boots were movin' and Wrangler covered asses were wigglin'.  After the big opening and groove that Halfway brought, Nonfiction was a surprising selection for the two slot and may have confused a few folks with its abrupt slowdown following the funk.  Halfway and Nonfiction combined went for a good 25 minutes.  And then, as Nonfiction was trailing off into the ether and something new seemed to be sneaking in, of all things, an out on the limb, loose and spacey debut version of Just Want To See His Face came out of nowhere.  Sung by Rich with a bullet mic effect going on, it was laid back, in no hurry and the perfect accompaniment to a fat spliff, if that's your thing.  For all you stat nerds out there again - we're counting this as the sixth tune from Exile On Main Street this band has covered now, not including the Big Toe version of Sweet Virginia but tossing in the Tokyo jam session that included Shake Your Hips from their day-off impromptu mess around in January 1999.  It went on for almost ten mellow minutes and sauntered off with the girls singing those "ooooh ooooh ooooh's" and Steve playing soft and easy before suddenly snapping the snare opening to Another Roadside Tragedy and closing the book on one of the more interesting covers the band has played.  

A nice jam out of Another Roadside Tragedy brought some funky clavinet sounds from Adam and the longer it went the wider the window opened for another segue, but it was not to be.  It wound down, came to a stop and after about 30 seconds or so the next song kicked in, which was....Share the Ride?  Wait, with no continuous segue straight out of Roadside Tragedy?  It's happened before and would have been cool to see again, perhaps with Share the Ride followed by slamming into a nasty Gone, but hey, we don't write the setlists.  We strongly doubt our suggestions mean jack shit to the band.  What's that saying...wish in one hand, take a dump in the other and see which one fills up first?  Well, Black Crowes fans would have a lot of poo in their palm by now if they followed that advice.

After jamming out Share the Ride for a bit, Move It On Down The Line came next and damned if we didn't wonder whether or not the last five songs could have looked like this:

Nonfiction -> Jam ->
I Just Want To See His Face ->
Another Roadside Tragedy -> Jam ->
Share The Ride -> Jam ->
Move It On Down The Line

Is it really asking too much for these guys to play non-stop for 50+ minutes with no breaks in between songs, just one long continuous stretch of uninterrupted music?  We're not asking for the world here.  A little more effort perhaps.  A bit more focus, maybe an attempt at seizing the opportunity that's dangling right there in front of them, a desire to blow minds...something along those lines.  Here's the deal:  We're not going to file a complaint on this one; we will simply view it like a wide open wide receiver, all alone, headed for the endzone and the quarterback decides to check down and dump it to the halfback in the flat.  It didn't cost the team the game but it sure would have looked nice the next morning in the film room.  Life goes on.  Lotta games left to play.

After settling for a field goal, things moved on to High Head Blues as the jamming in the second set continued to give anyone on hallucinogenics plenty of opportunities to find their spirit animal.  By the way, we're just kidding about that whole "settling for a field goal" thing.  Things were moving along just fine and even if there were breaks between songs, they were short and quick as the clock was becoming a factor.  Thorn In My Pride began as soon as High Head Blues ended, went straight into a 5-minute Steve and Joe drum and percussion breakdown and then got right down to business with Chris' abbreviated harp section that set up Luther and headed briskly toward the exit door.  It wasn't a hurried Thorn but it was running the no-huddle and keeping one eye on the clock.  

With Remedy closing things down and Jealous Again as the only encore offering tonight, there might have been a few folks wondering why Houston Don't Dream About Me never showed up.  We'd like to call those folks cry babies.  No, we're kidding.  Hopefully they were in the house at this show from October of '09 to get their fix.  So, was this the last Black Crowes show ever to be played in Houston?  Who knows.  Probably not.  It does take us back 17 years though to this memorable night, one that a lot of fans refer to as one of the top ten all-time shows in band history.  What would your Top Ten All-Time Black Crowes Shows list look like?  It'd be a tough list to put together, no doubt, and of course would be purely subjective...if we ever get caught up on these reviews maybe we'll get around to doing one, just for grins.  For now, we head to the great city of Austin and Stubb's BBQ.

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