red lights


Slow and then hot boiled

The Black Crowes / Robert Randolph and The Family Band
North Stage at The Summerfest grounds
Milwaukee, WI
Aug. 3, 2006
Black  Crowes
Black Crowes
Robert Randolph Band
Robert Randolph Band

Story and photos by Matt Schwenke

Originally slated for the the larger Marcus Amphitheatre at the Summerfest grounds, the performance put on by The Black Crowes and Robert Randolph and The Family Band, which was switched to the smaller North Stage last minute, was worthy of the larger stage but instead gave the couple thousand fans in attendance an intimate night with two of the most excitable acts in good ol' rock n' roll.

With his trademark electricity, Robert Randolph tested the waters in his opening tune, and with a little response from the crowd soon jumped right in kicking. Black  CrowesA blazing tone that is ultimately uplifting, Randolph's pedal steel guitar had a voice of its own and often sang the lead, only being muted when Randolph picked up his electric guitar. Proven on any form of guitar but more peculiar on the pedal steel, Randolph's take on the opening to "Voodoo Child" immediately brought images of Jimi to mind-- only he was oddly transposed over a pedal steel. And, as good bands are exactly that, The Family Band was distinctive in their own right, providing the velvety grooves and thumping funk from which Randolph took off from. Randolph's sister and cousin, Marcus, added extremely powerful vocals and steady rhythms, respectively, while the band commanded the low end and accented the whole. Evidence of the power behind Randolph was apparent in "Deliver Me," a funk and soul number which featured a change into the aforementioned "Voodoo Child" before ending the set with its reprise. The hour-long set left the crowd astir.

Perhaps unsure of what to make of the smaller than usual crowd, though seemingly unmiffed by the venue change, The Black Crowes flickered in intensity early with "Greasy Grass River" and "High Head Blues" but seemed to dim with an awkward ending to "Another Roadside Tragedy." Following up with "Twice As Hard," Chris Robinson's voice quickly shed some light, and on the new tune "It Takes One To Know One," some well-placed backing vocals and Allman Brothersesque guitar riffs, with Robinson joining brother Rich and Marc Ford on guitar, set the intensity at a level it would not dip below for the remainder of the show. Though the band's take on the Clash's "Train In Vain" was blistering hot and an interesting cover to choose, Rich's vocals were questionable before being absorbed by the energy of the song and his own guitar playing. With Chris back on stage, the band dove into the very extended "My Morning Song," which was broken down to the power of the drums and slowly built back up, with the bass first wandering back in and and the organ following short behind, until the whole band swelled behind Chris at full power to end the song. Furthering the loose, exploratory feel of the set, Ford was exceptional in his vocals and guitar on "Pearly Queen," before Chris delved into sultry prose during a breakdown in "Hard To Handle."

Wrapping up with the oldie but goodie "Jealous Again," Rich's vocals, in taking over sections of verse, were right on this time, and the display of musicianship by every member through the course of the evening kept the small but appreciative crowd hanging around and cheering for an encore.
The Black Crowes setlist:
Greasy Grass River
Thick N' Thin
High Head Blues
Another Roadside Tragedy
Twice As Hard
It Takes One To Know One
Sister Luck
Train In Vain
My Morning Song
Under A Mountain
Pearly Queen
Hard To Handle
Jealous Again

Black  Crowes
Black Crowes
Black  Crowes
Black Crowes
Black  Crowes
Black Crowes
Robert Randolph Band
Robert Randolph Band
Robert Randolph Band
Robert Randolph Band

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