Review + Photos + Setlist: The Black Crowes Say a Long Good Night to St. Louis, The Pageant, August 27, 2010
Bands tour beyond their expiration date far too often, with the end result that their legacy is tarnished or they become a parody of themselves. The Black Crowes, meanwhile, prefers to go on indefinite hiatus while in top form. That was obvious during its sold-out show at the Pageant last night, a marathon set featuring three hours of music.
Todd Owyoung Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes. An entire slideshow of photos is right here.
As drummer Steve Gorman emphasized in our interview this week, the band's new acoustic album, Croweology, wasn't meant to be a sedate, anemic experience. That held true also for the first half of the show, an 80-minute acoustic set. Stripped-down didn't mean devoid of energy, from opener "Soul Singing" to the craggy "Sister Luck." The Crowes are genre excavators: Soul, blues, folk and rock commingle and cohabitate, with no regard for boundaries or trends. The band's a stubborn anachronism without being a musty relic.
That reverence for music history shines through during the Crowes' concerts, which is partly why it's such a popular (and reliable) draw. A cover of "Oh Sister," recognizable as a Dylan song immediately because of Adam MacDougall's whistling organ, struck a mellow note. "My Morning Song," always a live favorite, had extra energy and volume. The tune morphed from a raucous rocker into a religious revival and then back again - an evolution guided by Chris Robinson, whose hops, claps and full-body shakes made him appear possessed by a higher being.
"Wiser Time," introduced by guitarist/vocalist Rich Robinson with some Spanish-flecked guitar, was another early highlight. The Robinson brothers' harmonies - the kind of perfect and effortless harmonies only siblings can conjure - set a soulful tone; Chris' belting came straight from the gut. The song settled in and spread out, so that guitarists Luther Dickinson and Rich Robinson each had time in the spotlight for solos. The former's style was as flashy (and jam-influenced) as the latter's moves were understated (and working-man's-blues-inspired).
Dickinson, who's also in North Mississippi Allstars, was a pleasure to watch. His fiery intensity and talent livened up the music in general, but especially improved the group's many extended jams, including an epic one after "Ballad in Urgency." He was a good foil for magnetic frontman Chris Robinson, who's the kind of willowy, limber front man you just don't see anymore, a throwback to the heyday of Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler. Robinson's voice also sounded fantastic in all parts of his range, whether he was going for grizzled rock singer or soul growler.
Todd Owyoung Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes. More photos here.