Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Live in Concert: The Black Crowes 12/13/08

Back in the Fall of 1991, the Black Crowes came to the local venue by our house in Cambridge, England and I didn’t go because no one would go with me. I wasn’t as evolved as I am now, and wasn’t open to doing such things by myself. Now, I prefer it that way. I’ve lived with the regret ever since. I’m less a fan now than I was then and the band keeps breaking up, so it has felt several times that I missed my best window to get it right.

My other fear, and it’s one that came to fruition Saturday night, is that the band is prone to long jams that go on and on and make standing for 3 hours especially painful. I just don’t have the back for that anymore. Still, I’m very glad I went and get to cross them off my list. I’ll probably just never go again.

The show started perfectly. The first 90 mins or so went by fluidly. Songs had actual stops and starts and verses and hooks. Those sound like the basics, but when you have a band that likes to jam, many of those key elements get pushed aside in favor of indulgent noodling and psychedelia. Chris Robinson has one of the greatest voices in rock. He still looks like the heroin-addicted scarecrow he probably is, but the lungs have only improved with age. And, he has a natural stage presence that is a commendable counterstrike to the rest of the bands statuesque poses. I could have used a bit more emotion. Drop to your knees with the mic stand, James Brown style, or raise your arms to the Gods of high notes. There was no such posturing. But, his bopping and clapping was still fairly infectious.

They only played one hit, “Remedy” which I was afraid might happen. I know the hits and I know the new album a little bit, so I was lost most of the night. However, instead of anxiously awaiting a song I knew, I just went along for the ride and took what they gave. The highlight was when they brought out opening act Vetiver (never heard of ‘em, so didn’t see them) for a couple of songs. The first was “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” by the Byrds, a song I love and was elated to hear. Both bands made for about 12-15 people on the stage and it became an acoustic hootenanny, like one of those barnburner jams you see on one of those all-star concerts where different performers trade off taking a verse or solo. I was pretty proud of myself for knowing, what I assumed was, an obscure song so I made sure people could see my singing along by pulling my patented move of needlessly looking on either side of me, as if I’m waiting for someone. In my mind, I’m hoping people are not only impressed that I know the words to this weird little song, but also assuming I must be important since I’m obviously looking around with a purpose. After the Byrds ditty, they did “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, the perfect choice.

Unfortunately, after this high point, the show turned into the jam I was trying to avoid. Three songs filled up the next 45 minutes or so and I don’t think any of them even had lyrics, depriving us of Chris’s voice which is their best asset. That part got long, but not really boring, luckily.

By the end, I was mostly satisfied. It hit me that the Robinson boys are no posers. They have a deep appreciation for roots and classic rock and aren’t wading in the shallow end of the pool. They’re in it legitimately and the love and respect run deep and naturally. God bless ‘em for it.


Marilyn said...

How great that you finally got to see the Black Crowes. Sounds like it was really good, but I wouldn't like those long jam numbers either. Does anyone ever sit down during a concert? Standing for 3 hours would really do me in. Those were fun times in Cambridge, going to concerts in the Corn Palace.
BTW, C-pipes hasn't commented for a while. I hope he's all right. I miss hearing from him.
Love you, Mom

C-Pipes said...

Momma Lamoreaux,

c-Pipes is alive and well. Happy Holidays to you and congratulations on the very soon, very welcome addition to the Lamoreaux family. In no time at all Lil' Lam(that's hip hop speak) will have his own blog about formula and how his dads music taste are so awful compared to legends like Miley Cyrus and the Cheetah Girls.

Merry Christmas!!!

Eric Petersen said...

The Byrds cover would have been cool to see. It's a great song!

Brooke and Jake said...

Sounds great. Where did they play? I don't think I could recognize one Black Crowes song but I am proud of myself for knowing Vetiver who I discovered while doing a little research on freak folk. Jam bands are boring but at least the concert lasted 2+ hours so you couldn't resent them for jamming through half of the usual 1 hour concert.

One of the boringest concerts I've been to was Mars Volta at the Denver Filmore. Have you listened to Scabdates? Ugh, it was just like that.

Marilyn said...

Hi, c-pipes! I just checked Jon's blog again and saw your note to me. It's SO great to hear from you. We are very anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lil' Lam. It is going to be very interesting indeed to see if Jon's music tastes transfer to his offspring. He is a good sport about Dora, though, so maybe he'll be able to abide Miley and the teensters.
Merry Christmas to you, too!

Ryan said...

Good stuff - thanks for sharing, Jon! My three regrets:

1) The Cure, Prayer (Disintegration) Tour, Fiddler's Green, Sep. 4, 1989. Shoulda spent those last $50 and ignored the 18+ requirement to ride the KJQ (?) listener appreciation bus from SLC. Finally saw them at Earl's Court in London in June 1996 on the Swing Tour (and several times since), but there will never be another Disintegration.

2) Social Distortion, Oct. 2, 1990, Speedway Cafe, in promotion of self-titled album (think ball and chain, story of my life, ring of fire). Shoulda gone alone and braved the raucous mosh pit when my 18-old frame could have handled the abuse. Finally saw them in Dec. 2007 at the HOB Las Vegas. Mr. Ness was notably older than when I was first introduced by MTV, but they rocked the house just the same. And I didn't let the fact that another 18 years had passed stop me from braving the (slightly less raucous) mosh pit this time.

3) Primus and Jane's Addiction, Winter 1990, Utah State Fairgrounds. Of all the stupid reasons not to go - by the name of the venue I thought the concert was going to be outdoors, and thought it would be too cold. Ahem. I kicked myself when I later learned the truth and eventually...(unfortunately timing of mission vs. Lollapalooza led me to miss the first three tours - ouch!)...I returned to see Primus at the Utah State Fairpark in 1993. Unfortunately Jane's Addiction had since broken up and I figured I'd missed my shot. Fortunately opportunity has comin' a-knockin' and if all goes as planned I'll catch Jane's with NIN in Vegas on May 17 this year. Fingers crossed!