Sho 'Nuff: Black Crowes Keepin' It Live And Loud - Rolling Stone
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Sho ‘Nuff: Black Crowes Keepin’ It Live And Loud

“We gotta ride in the bus with him after that shit,”
joked Black Crowes singer Chris
Robinson
after the sold-out house gave
keyboardist/hometown hero Eddie Harsch the lion’s
share of applause during band introductions.

Not that Robinson seemed to be suffering from a bruised ego
during this latest stop on the Crowes’ “Sho ‘Nuff” small-club tour:
For 90-minutes, covered in glitter dust in a flowing white dashiki,
he strutted moves that could qualify him to lead any summer stock
production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Gesturing wildly with his mic stand wrapped in feathers,
Robinson looked at times more like a one-man incarnation of
kitsch-ventriloquist act Waylan and Madam than
swagger-rock progenitor Mick Jagger. It was these
kinds of over-the-top-isms — magnified in the thousand-person
capacity club — that crystallized the Crowes’ reputation as a
hyper-achieving bar band. Moreover, they seem hellbent on proving
that they’re still capable of reproducing the straight-ahead,
hard-rocking R&B hyperbole that made them FM staples of the
early ’90s.

And to be sure, having spent half a decade drifting from
retro-rock into a jam-happy psychedelia that had the band sharing
stages with the likes of Bob Weir and
Jorma Kaukonen on the Furthur
Fest
, the Crowes were determined to establish that they
were, indeed, back from the Dead. They kept things tight,
short-winded and familiar, drawing six of their 14 songs —
including the three encores — from their 1990 debut, Shake
Your Money Maker
; another five from its follow-up, 1992’s
Southern Harmony and Musical Companion; just two from
1994’s Amorica and avoiding 1996’s darkly-trippy Three
Snakes and One Charm
altogether.

Blasting confidently through “Remedy” and “Sting Me,” the Crowes
paused only long enough for Robinson to lose his white feathered
hat as guitarist (and younger brother) Rich, now
center stage after the departure of longtime lead player
Marc Ford, laid into the groove of “Black Moon
Rising,” which segued right into the romping blues shuffle of
“Thick ‘N Thin.”

They debuted only one song from their upcoming Columbia
Records
debut: “Horsehead,” a heavy wah-wah pedal grinder
built on dramatic guitar drop-outs and the younger Robinson’s
strategic slide playing. By the time the band moved onto the
Sunday-morning saunter of “Seeing Things,” with Harsch delivering a
Southern revival organ solo that drew a smile from the younger
Robinson, the Crowes were back to the hits. The only trace of
free-range indulgence left was in the Allman
Brothers
-ish double leads and space-jam breakdown of
“Morning Song.”

But even that ended quickly, detouring sharply into Led
Zeppelin’s
“Whole Lotta Love,” with afro-sporting tour
addition Audley Freed supplying the
Page. A funky reading of the disjointed blues of
“A Conspiracy” followed, and then the Robinson brothers shared
vocal duties on “Wiser Time” as Harsch, Freed and Robinson traded
tight solos. Soon enough, it was back to audience appreciation as
the houselights came on for the set-ending honky tonk of “Jealous
Again.”

A swollen full-band encore version of “She Talks To Angels” had
lighters in the air, and the crowd mouthing the words. Even when
Freed came in too early on “Hard To Handle,” audience and band were
having too much fun to care — it was almost like the Crowes
covering themselves. As Chris Robinson said leaving the stage after
the final “Twice As Hard”: “The future of rock and roll is in your
hands,” reminding the crowd, one more time, that its past was in
theirs.

In This Article: The Black Crowes

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