The Chris Robinson Brotherhood @ The Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, MI on September 29, 2015
The Crofoot is a 1,100 capacity venue located in Pontiac, a sort of big city slightly north of Detroit. While the venue itself is eight years old the building goes back to the 1880s, so it has a cool vintage vibe and modern lights and sound.
After a near-miss because our babysitter bailed fifteen minutes after she was supposed to show up, a major favor from a friend who saved the day, and my liberal interpretation of the posted speed limit we arrived well after doors but with just enough time to grab a drink and make it up front. The upstairs was roped off as the turnout was kind of weak, maybe 500 or so people. Come on, Detroit. Folks wonder why bands blow right by us left and right nowadays...look in the mirror. Yeah, it's a Tuesday, and yeah, you gotta get up for work tomorrow, but it was only $20 advance ($25 walk up) for a practically guaranteed two set, three hour show. There are only a handful of bands left worth leaving the house for anymore, but this is one of them.
That aside, this was the best of the four CRB shows that I've seen. They seemed really at ease and into it. They strolled out around 8:40, and after tuning for a minute started out with Boppin' The Blues, a Carl Perkins cover. One of the coolest thing about a CRB show is that even if you own all of the albums, singles and EPs you are going to hear something that you don't own and probably don't know. A new song was next, Roan County Banjo. The band is going into the studio after the first of the year, so this one may or may not wind up on the next album. Tornado is a Black Crowes song was brought under the CRB umbrella when they rerecorded it for their Phosphorescent Harvest album last year. It was played with a different arrangement.
Little Lizzie Mae is another Black Crowes-era song that was rerecorded and brought under the CRB umbrella (The Magic Door), although it was never released by TBC on album, only on a DVD (Cabin Fever). The song segued into Can You Hear Me, a new song as far as I can tell. It could be a cover, I'm not totally sure. Star Or Stone has become a live staple. It should be noted that while the band goes off into jams that these guys are better at jamming than The Black Crowes were. The Crowes were hit or miss on the jams but these guys always seem to have a better idea of where they're going even if they're not sure when they're getting there, if that makes any sense.
Someday Past The Sunset is one of my wife's favorites. I am not sure if this one qualifies as a Crowes holdover or not. Chris and Rich recorded it for the Brothers Of A Feather live album, but it wasn't technically a Black Crowes album. It's first proper studio release was as a CRB song, so I don't know. You folks out there in Internet land figure it out and let me know. Hard To Handle was an Otis Redding song that The Crowes covered on their first album. The arrangement was different than the album version, but this song has been played so many times over the years that it has mutated. Beggars Moon rounded out the first set at the 70 minute mark.
After a 25-30 minute break the band strolled back out and did Shake, Rattle And Roll, a cover that was released on the excellent Try Rock And Roll EP last fall. Jump The Turnstile is a great song. I love the “arena rock” sounding part toward the end. Wheel Don't Roll was cool. Train Robbers off of the overlooked This Magnificent Distance album is a favorite of mine. That is, in my opinion, one of the best albums of the 2000s and it needs a vinyl release. Oak Apple Day is another unknown one for me. An as yet unreleased new song? A cover? No idea. Tough Mama is a Bob Dylan cover.
I Ain't Hiding is another Black Crowes holdover, the infamous “Disco” song from Before The Frost...Until The Freeze. The arrangement was way different and in some ways better than the album version. It sounded like a 45 played at 33 and 1/3. Got Love If You Want It is another cover and closed out the second set. The band quickly came back out and did one song for the encore, Johnny Cash's Big River. The show ended around 11:30 or so, with the second set being 80 or 90 minutes. I wasn't paying close attention to the time by that point, as I was in my second wind. They could have played more, as I was up for it and so was the crowd, but you can't complain. I am of the mindset that it's better to leave them begging for more than screaming for mercy. They played a total of nearly three hours.
I have got to give props to the crowd, as the cellphone use was tolerable. People would snap a picture or two and put their phone down. That's cool. I saw Neil Young this summer and the number of people who played with their phone the entire show was disgusting. Live in the moment, people. This concert will never happen again, although I will be the first in line to buy the Nugs.net official bootleg CD to wish that it did.