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Damn fine rock n' roll band

The Black Crowes
Riverside Theatre
Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 7, 2009
The Black Crowes The Black Crowes The Black Crowes

Review by Bob Pelzek
Photos by Gypsy Davey

Brothers Chris and Rich Robinson brought their band, The Black Crowes, to the Riverside Theater Saturday night and played for two hours to a nearly sold out crowd of appreciative and genuine fans. Touring behind their latest release, Before the Frost...Until the Freeze, also including a sizable catalog of old studio material, unreleased tracks, and choice cover tunes. One can never be sure of what song selection the band may break out on a given evening, and tonight the Crowes did not disappoint.

The Black Crowes casually strolled on stage and confidently broke into "Make Glad," a new song with both the classic Crowes sound and a touch of funky bass played by Sven Pipien, an excellent choice to get the crowd moving. The boys followed with a run of the classic tracks, "Sting Me" from Southern Harmony, "Only A Fool" off of By Your Side and "Darlings of the Underground Press" a B-side from the "Remedy" single. While die hard fans may find the inclusion of any songs off the By Your Side recordings less than acceptable, many looked as they enjoyed singing along with Chris!

Slowing the tempo of the show a bit, the band went into "Garden Gate," a bluegrass song recorded at the Cabin Fever sessions featuring Luther Dickinson, the latest member to join the Crowes, and he clearly displayed his virtuosity. Steve Gorman, the driving back beat to the band, stepped out from behind his drum kit for "Whoa Mule" off of Warpaint, playing a bongo drum and keeping the mellow groove going a bit longer. The next five songs, played nearly in complete succession, is where the band clearly shined...taking every member of the audience along on their musical journey punctuated with often times soaring and trippy guitar solos. Chris Robinson's infectious dancing and Rich's soaring guitar work lead everyone through extended jams.

Anyone criticizing the Crowes for a lack of passion needs to experience something like this to prove themselves incorrect in this assumption. Unfortunately, the show came to unexpected halt when the band went into "Lady of Avenue A." While the song has only been played a handful of times since originally recorded, it could have been appreciated more at a different point in the show. Rounding out the evening was the classic "Twice As Hard" which brought the crowd back to life and "Been A Long Time" which ended in an extended jam by Luther who again is something to behold when playing the new material. Taking a short break the boys came back out for a quick take on "Thick N Thin" before ending the evening with the cover "Willin'" - a rare treat last played in December of '08.

Hopefully, put to rest at the end of this evening is the worn out tag of "battling brothers" that has followed the Crowes throughout their nearly 20 year history. Chris & Rich along with fellow band members shared many moments on stage together Saturday night, smiling and nodding to each other...The Black Crowes put it all out on the line for each and every song, night after night, clearly the only tag that should remain is "Damn fine rock n' roll band."
Milwaukee Set list:
Make Glad
Sting Me
Only A Fool
Darling Of The Underground Press
Garden Gate
Whoa Mule
And The Band Played On
My Morning song
How Much For Your Wings
Shady Grove
Downtown $ Waster
Lady of Ave A
Twice As Hard
Been A Long Time
E: Thick N Thin

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