The Black Crowes @The Fillmore Detroit in Detroit, MI on Sunday, April 14, 2013
So after a two year hiatus, and three years since their last Detroit stop, we have the return of The Black Crowes. They were in great form tonight, with Chris Robinson being more animated than I've seen him in years. Twice As Hard kicked things off at 8:22. We were in the front row of section B in the balcony (loge for you sophisticated types), and so we got to watch streams of panicked fans block our view for that song and Good Morning Captain. There was no opener, and them taking the stage so early took people by surprise and caused a mad dash. Chris busted out the harmonica for Hotel Illness. It should be noted that he was wearing shoes tonight. This is important, as the band is usually in jam mode when he is barefoot.
The Crowes have always played stuff that even the most diehard fan either doesn't own or hasn't heard them do live before. Always. Tonight's Cracker Jack surprise was Traffic's Medicated Goo. They were moving along at a pretty brisk clip, and I was thinking Where's the jams? The Crowes are also unafraid of digging way deep into their catalog on any given night. I've never seen them do a set even remotely close to the same as the last time they rolled through town. Doing songs like Another Roadside Tragedy makes me want to come back time and again. The first jam of the night occurred during this song. Their vocal harmonies were great tonight, with everyone except for drummer Steve Gorman taking turns depending on the song. Speaking of Gorman, he was wailing tonight. He's always good, but tonight he was really good.
Ballad In Urgency is one of my favorites. Wiser Time is always a joy to hear live. I love the harmonies, but the live version always sinks or swims by the sprawling jams in the middle. Tonight's jams all held my interest. I've seen them do maddeningly boring jams before, but tonight the jams were all pretty rocking. She Talks To Angels brought it back together for the more mainstream folks in the crowd. A lot of diehards who've seen them 100 times moan when they bust these singles out, but folks need to realize that not everyone in the place is as into it as deeply as they are, or that they have even seen them live before.
Cold Boy Smile is such a great song. Those have to be some of Chris and Rich's best lyrics. Comin' Home was one of those tunes I had to wait to see a setlist online to know the title of. It's a cover by Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. Thanks Google! Thorn In My Pride is where the jams come in. Long hippie jams. I strongly dislike Soul Singing. Everyone else loves it, and it's something of a live staple, so over the years I have turned this lemon into lemonade: it's my piss break song.
Jealous Again, Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution, and Remedy rounded out the set with a one-two-three punch. The encore was Hard To Handle, which went into Hush. I'll admit that I miss ol' Eddie Harsch on the organs, but Adam Macdougall is something of a wizard himself, as evidenced by his channeling of Jon Lord during the organ solo. They wrapped up with the last verse of Hard To Handle, creating the medley effect. That was it. 2 hours, give or take a few minutes. I have to admit that I preferred this tighter, shorter set over the two-set, three hour jam-laden gigs of the past. I had to laugh when I hear people say that they “only” played 2 hours, though. Most headliners punch the clock at 90 minutes and bolt.
I already have tickets for the August Meadowbrook gig. I hope that the morons in the section next to us won't be attending. We were at the end of our section, seats 9 and 10, and they were seats 1-3 across the aisle. I'm cool with folks doing their thing at shows. Drinking, singing, dancing, whatever. It's all good as long as folks are respectful of other people's space. These dipshits were playing with their cellphones the whole night, snapping pictures and shit. Of each other. With a flash. Constantly. I didn't enjoy the strobe light show and went over there and yelled at them. My wife even engaged in passive aggressive flash warfare. My thing is, I am cool with people taking pictures now and again. Shit, I do it myself...with the flash off. Using flash is distracting for the band as well as the people around you. These morons were snapping pictures of each other, song after song, and then playing with Facebook. I like my gadgets and the Internet as much as the next guy, but I don't get doing it at a concert. I mean, what is more interactive and real time than the band, right in front of you, playing songs? Goddamn people, be cool. The Internet will be there when the concert is done, I promise you.