Words by: Craig Willard
The Black Crowes :: 09.12.06 :: Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel :: Providence, RI
The Black Crowes continued their year-and-a-half-long run by making a return appearance at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI. The previous show found them gearing up for a monumental New Year's Eve show in none other than Madison Square Garden, capping what many said was the finest tour and the sweetest sets the band had spun since inception. This time, however, found them on the heels of uncertainty, with two benchmark members, Marc Ford and Ed Harsch, both leaving due to personal reasons. Of course, speculation has run rampant as to the nature and cause of the departures, nowhere more so than on the band's own fansite, Amorica, where an editorial view of Virtue & Vice turns into a rant about Kate & Owen, to how much a "fan" hates "Remedy" as fast as you can think of the words to "Conspiracy."
The Black Crowes
Chris & Rich Robinson
Lupo's marked the fifth show of the Fall leg and was set up as a defining gig for the current lineup, as two of the last four shows were played as "greatest hits" sets in venues with casual fans, while the other two shows found the band working with training wheels. This two-set stand was far from disappointing. With no opener on the bill, the band launched into the three-hour tryst with "Halfway to Everywhere," moving swiftly into a nice jam that led into the rocking "Black Moon Creeping." This was followed by another song, "Hotel Illness," off their defining album Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Following the Companion selections was "Hi-Head Blues," off of the dark horse favorite Amorica. The boys then dug deep with a trio of covers: the Grease Band's "Let it Be Gone," "Long Black Veil," and Free's "Ride a Pony." In getting back to BC basics, they closed out the first set with a solid "Twice As Hard" > "Thorn Jam" > "Thorn in My Pride," which featured a hard-hitting Gorman solo to wrap it up.
The missing spots of Ford and Harsch have been rounded out by Paul Stacey and Rob Clores, respectively. Stacey is no stranger to the band, having played in Chris Robinson's side project from a few years back, New Earth Mud. Before being tapped to fill out the stage-left guitar spot, he had already been working with the Crowes on their upcoming studio album. It should be noted that also playing in New Earth Mud was Stacey's brother Jeremy on drum kit, so if Steve Gorman decides he needs a break next, that base is covered. Name possibilities could be "Dirty Crowes," "New Black Earth," or even "Soiled Simpatico." Clores has also fielded some of the Robinson Brothers' time, playing in the aptly named Rich Robinson Band. They both held their own, probably much to the chagrin of nay-sayers on the message boards. Granted, Stacey was taking cues from Rich, but the music still flowed with the ease of someone who had been in the trenches much longer than a few shows. Rob's keys were not really showcased, but played more of a support role.
Chris Robinson by Darren Ankenman
The second set kicked off with another tune from Amorica, "Wiser Time." Stephen Stills' solo "Song of Love" came next, with Rich breaking out a sweet blonde Gretsch hollow-body. If I remember correctly, he also took some licks off a Rickenbacker, which he no doubt stole Saturday from Tom Petty's gear trailer when TP wasn't looking. "Welcome to the Goodtimes" trotted out next, perhaps saying that the Crowes were still a force and enjoying the ride, despite the circumstances from the past month. Chris Robinson even made a crack about how much fun they were having, which was felt throughout the night. Continuing with the covers, "Tough Mama," a cut off Dylan and The Band's Planet Waves, was tossed in. The only new material played was "Cold Boy Smile," which was received rather well. It has made a few appearances this past Spring and Summer, so it is gradually becoming more familiar. Hopefully, this song will make it on the upcoming album, given it doesn't turn into a Chinese Democracy.
Rich Robinson by Darren Ankenman
Going into the last turn, "Soul Singing" was fully charged, rousing the crowd with its guitar interplay between Stacey and Rich Robinson, who then took over vocals for a rendition of Pink Floyd's "Fearless." Going back to the Amorica well, "Nonfiction" got the loyal followers worked up, while chart songs "Jealous Again" and "Hard to Handle" were the closers for the casual attendees. It should be noted that the backup singers really add so much to the ensemble on stage. Charity and Mona have hung in there since almost the beginning, even as Charity lost her son this past summer. The community came together, raising a donation in her son's name for First Candle, which is a national SIDS alliance. After a quick off stage breather, encore time was at hand, with one more lil' taste of freak & roll for the night being given in the form of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well."
| The Black Crowes|
Many expected this tour would be cancelled. Most bands would have hit the skids in having to fill not just one, but two key members' holes. The Black Crowes have not only risen to the occasion, but they have taken it head-on by not playing it safe with well-traveled songs that have been deemed "greatest hits" songs by fans with questionable allegiance. As they make their way across the Midwest in support of a rarities album and vault DVD, you can count on the fact that these Crowes are not lost.
JamBase | Providence
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