(Only) Halfway To Everywhere
My Morning Song
Isn't It About Time
Jam -> Thorn In My Pride
- encore -
Can't You Hear Me Knocking
It was a solid show. Kinda mellow and groggy. They played Catfish Blues in the middle of Morning Song and that was sweet (I'm sure you've heard the Hendrix version on Electric Blues). Good Friday was really good. Paul Stacey is a good guitarist but he can't hold a candle to Marc Ford. High quotient of dim-witted fratted out idiots in the crowd, as per usual in Houston.
Chris blew the second verse to Can You Hear Me Knocking and sang gibberish until they could get to the jam. I"ve seen better Crowes shows but not a bad way to spend a Tuesday nite.
The venue - Verizon Wireless Theater in Downtown Houston, estimated size 1500, probably 2/3rds full.
The lights - sucked. I regret that it was pointed out to me early in the night. 'cause before it was, they weren't bothering me but they weren't really doing anything for me. But then I had it in my head, so I kept watching as the lights would sometimes change colors when Steve Gorman hit the kick drum, and occasionally they'd put a spotlight on whoever they believed was soloing at the time (which was in several instances incorrect). The audience lights were perpetually on and too bright. There were no real sweeps from the stage to the audience. No real variance of real dark to real bright. There was a moment when Rich Robinson was rocking hard and they turned off everything except the purple & yellow which was cool. And there was another instance during Good Friday when only the pupleish color was on and it was nice and deep, dark. But generally speaking the lights were a work in progress.
The sound was a bit muddy in the middle. Not talking about the music itself, just the sound presentation. Rich and the keyboard occupied the same space for a good majority of the time, and it meant one or the other (or both) were washed out frequently. Often, the keys just sounded like warbley white/background noise.
The music - overall the music gets a big thumbs up. They hardly strayed from their first four albums, which was nice. They played a new song ("It's about time you learned" is the chorus I remember from it) which was forgettable and quite possibly the worst song they have ever written.... Rich did play a ridiculous monstrosity of a pearly-white hollow-body guitar for this tune and I hope he gets paid to play at shows. There was also one slower song from a more recent Lions album that is named "Feathers" which wasn't so bad. They played just about everything a little slow, but hey, that was the vibe they were feeling, so I'm not knocking 'em for it as much as I'm pointing out that it seemed the speed meter was turned down all night long. Jealous again had a good moment there for those who particularly like to watch the guitarists, like I do. You know that part where it breaks down, then the guitar plays this little lick thing while Chris sings this "Dontcha think I want to, dontcha think I should ..." or whatever? That typically isn't a Rich lick to play, but the guitarists exchanged a look in there ... like Paul Stacey didn't know where the song was going, so Rich just took over. Then they both laughed at each other. I thought overall the guitar interaction was best on that song.
The "new guys" - Sven doesn't count. He's played with them enough to not be considered a new guy. And he definitely held his own. He's a bit of a minimalist, though. I kinda wish he would do a little more with the bass, BUT, it was thumping hard in the mix and I wasn't complaining. Paul Stacey... what's important is it seemed to me that he & Rich were getting along. Rich is a strange cat to read, though. If he's not ready to make a switch or a change, he'll turn his back on the rest of the band. So a lot of the time, new dude had to stare at the back or Rich's head until Rich was ready to let the guy stop soloing. But it worked. Stacey also pulled the classic move (no less than three times) of lighting a cigarette and smoking/playing while Rich was trying to show he could be "the man." Well played, new dude.
Keyboard guy was very forgettable. Again, it looked like Rich got along with him, though. Often, while turning his back on the rest of the band, Rich was forced to be face-to-face with keyboard guy. Honestly, they really didn't play any song that has heavy keys influence. I almost think the keys detract from the sound a bit ... just too much mud in the middle. But fellow fans might disagree with me here. Sadly, keyboard guy wasn't really given a chance (other than in Wiser Time and in Can't You Hear Me Knockin') to win me over, and thus he didn't.
The "old guys" - Chris was oozing with personality, energy and everything you want from him. He didn't cry about people shooting lasers at him or pouring beer on him or anything like that. Which was nice. His beard was scruffy to quite scruffy. His beads/neclaces added credibility to his story-telling persona. His voice was still in fine form. I think his best moment was in My Morning Song when there's that part about the music freeing your mind, let it go baby, let it go ... well he switched the words up quite a bit, as he's prone to do. He was really almost preaching about freedom and love and all things good in the world and I was into it. He had some other moments like that throughout the set, and actually I should point out that some of their material has really been re-worked well.
Like Good Friday, that used to start with the harp but now new guitarist guy dons a slide, and they get this slow, Pink Floydesque sound going on. Also on Only Halfway to Everywhere, they were singing something in those hard hits (I couldn't quite understand it) ... toward the end of the song that part got a jam of its own before going back into the close and it was really good. But I was talking about the old guys. Chris - gold. Rich - gold. Gorman - gold.
Overall - Thumbs up. It's all about the music. Sure the lights sucked, the sound wasn't the best, yada yada. It's all about the music, damnit. And I enjoyed the music. A good time was had by all. Except that stinky smokey guy who got busted after he bogarted a joint too long. Whoops! Oh, and some dude who momentarily passed out near us. That dude's buddy took off running, leaving him with a handful of strangers to pick him up and re-orient him.
Nice review Frank. This gives me a good idea of what to expect if I catch the Seattle show. I've never seen the BC's, but like their approximation of the Small Faces' sound. I've heard your comment about the frat-boy doofus element with their crowd before. Usually means 20 year old drunk girls too. I'm hoping they get a new LD by the time they hit the Northwest. If I'm feelin' sleazy, I just might make it!
Hoping to hit the Red Rocks show on Sunday. (North Mississippi All Stars opening; can't pass up that combo)
Thanks for the "frat boy" warning, I'll adjust my expectations accordingly.
Java_Dave and I must be the last BC holdouts here.
The keyboard guy is Adam MacDougall and hasn't been w/ the band very long. I doubt he will perform most of the "keyboard oriented" songs for a while, if ever. Eddie Harsch (sp?) was with the band since inception and wrote many of the key pieces and is a fantastic player and will be extremely difficult to replace.
The other guitar player is Paul Stacey who produced "The Lost Crowes" as well as producing New Earth Mud. He's very well versed in BC music and should fill in pretty well, but I have to agree, based on my experiences seeing the Crowes w/ Audley Freed, that it's very difficult to replace Marc Ford. Time will tell.
This is a real good band that is in somewhat of a transition right now. New music is popping up for them and a new album has just been recorded. Glad you enjoyed the show and the big drawback to any Crowes show is the possibility that Frat Boys will show up. The drunken 20 y/o girls will be there but they talk thru the show and piss me off. Tell them AND the frat boys to STFU.
"Isn't It About Time" is a Stephen Stills song and "Feathers" is an unreleased tune recorded before Amorica.
Damn I wanna see them in Santa Fe Saturday night at Paoli!! Just don't have a yon of cash right now. I'm tore up. Last time I saw them was Vegoose? last year, and I though they were fantastic. Old school blues-rock
Word is Luther from NMAS is taking over the lead guitar spot after this year. The new keys player is terrible and I can't see him lasting very long. Baracco? The stale setlists on this tour have been baffling. Going from 3 hour, two set shows with completely different setlists from night to night the last two years to one set, two hour shows with half of the same songs every night this tour so far is making no sense to me.
I severely doubt that Luther would join the Black Crowes, but ya never know. They've probably paired down the setlists and length of shows to get the "terrible" keyboard guy and Paul Stacey comfortable with the repertoire. You are right about the two hour shows--they are playing 120 minutes precisely every night.
They are also kind of in a low ebb right now of interest and that is probably why they aren't playing long epic shows. The show I saw was 2/3rds full, my friend who saw them in Austin said it wasn't a very well attended show at all.
I stand corrected Hill Billy!!!! I just saw that the Crowes played Telluride and Luther played the whole show on lead gee-tar! This is very interesting.