Last Friday in Austin, TX, The Black Crowes proved to me that they are our generation's defining rock and roll band. There were some questions going in, as they haven't released an album of their own since 1998's By Your Side, and lately they've been more in the news for lawsuits than for rocking, but frankly, lawsuits are just part of rock and roll, right up there with the sex and the drugs. Oh, and the music too.
The Crowes were one of the few bands at South By Southwest that got more than a 45 minute slot to perform, and I had no doubt that they would match the intensity of Jurassic 5 and Black Eyed Peas, who brought much energy to the Stubb's BBQ stage the previous night. TBC came onstage fashionable late (only half an hour) and fashionably dressed, with Chris Robinson slipping more and more into Mick Jagger mold, confidently aging like a true rock and roller.
"Midnight from the Inside Out" and "Greasy Grass River" were the two opening songs, presumably from their upcoming album, Lions both new numbers for most of the crowd, myself included. Then the crowd erupted as Chris announced they would play both the new and the old, as they dropped into "Sting Me." Southern Harmony and Musical Companion was the theme of the weekend for me, and we got to hear all of my favorite songs from my favorite Black Crowes album, one of my top ten albums of all time (I really mean it this time!)
In addition to "Sting Me," we got a ripping "No Speak, No Slave", which kept the intensity up. Another song that I had never heard, "Lickin'" was next, and it had a solid groove and a catchy chorus. I found it hard not to shed a tear when "Seeing Things" was the next number. Just magical, they way Chris Robinson works the microphone and captivates the audience, especially during a slower number.
The peak of the set was next, with a beautiful "Thorn in My Pride" into the slow rolling intro of "My Morning Song." I was literally in tears of joy, that song means so much to me. It defines my sophomore year, a nineteen year old stoner writing the lyrics If Music Got to Free Your Mind, Just Let It Go, Cause You Never Know on my bedroom door at 3817 Walnut. A blistering guitar solo had many heads banging just like it was 1992 all over again.
I must say the band all looked pretty healthy, but the tour hasn't started yet, mind you. I did try to check out the new guitarist Audley Freed, but he was obscured by the speaker stack I was standing right in front of, but sounded great. The highlight of the set for me was the "Wiser Time." Another extended intro, keeping you waiting for the drop into it, then raining Rhodes piano in a gorgeous keyboard solo by my man Eddie Harsch, really a fabulous groove the whole way. Chris seemed to sing "another song, another mile" and smile with the thought of another long tour coming.
Kicking it back to the Shake Your Moneymaker era, they ripped Twice as Hard right into Jealous Again. The guitar lick at the end still gets you every time, and swirling guitars had the Texans revved up! The image of the Stubb's flashing neon B-B-Q sign behind Chris and Rich crooning into the same microphone during "Jealous Again" made me want to own a camera. The energy stayed high the whole set, as Chris ran around, strutting his stuff. They tried to leave the stage after "Jealous Again", but the crowd was not having it, and egged them on for a "Remedy' closer.
In what might be the most odd pairing of acts I could have ever imagined, The Black Crowes will hit the road with Oasis on a "Tour of Brotherly Love," as the two bands and their respective scrapping sibs hit the road on May 11th in Las Vegas for a sixteen-date run that wraps on July 7th in New York City's Radio City Music Hall. Rock and roll is also about the attitude, and there will be no shortage of attitude on that upcoming tour.
The Black Crowes Tourdates on JamBase
The Black Crowes | 03.16.01 | Stubb's BBQ | Austin, TX
Midnight From The Inside Out
Greasy Grass River
No Speak No Slave
Thorn In My Pride
My Morning Song
Young Man, Old Man
No Use Lying (1st time played)
Twice As Hard