Sunday, August 22, 2010

Freak and Roll

The Black Crowes @ The Fillmore- Detroit in Detroit, MI, on August 20, 2010.
So this is it for a while. Their last area appearance before their 'indefinite hiatus' begins after the tour wraps up at the end of the year. We were promised a two-set, three hour show, and we got it. The acoustic set was wonderful. They sounded great, played great. Chris Robinson's voice was in fine form. They added two back-up singers and a percussionist for this leg. They started out with Cold Boy Smile, and the vocal harmonies were on all night. Jealous Again got the drunken yahoo behind me singing loudly and out of sync with the band. Hey buddy, I didn't pay $40+ to hear you. Welcome to the Goodtimes seems to be the only song that the band is willing to play off of By Your Side anymore. How Much For Your Wings was amazing live, followed by another outstanding tune from Three Snakes and One Charm, Bring On, Bring On. The harmonies were great during the chorus. Roll Old Jeremiah sounded album perfect, which I suppose is fitting since Before The Frost...Until The Freeze was recorded completely live. Chris busted out the harmonica for Hotel Illness. Luther Dickinson is the best lead guitarist that the band has ever had, and that is saying a lot. Marc Ford and Audley Freed were/are amazing in their own right. Another favorite from TSAOC, Under A Mountain, benefited from the laid back vibe of the first set. She Talks To Angels was next, followed by a jammy My Morning Song. Not too jammy, but loose and sprawling with the gospel interlude found on Croweology. Then came the acoustic version of Remedy. This song is electric to the core, so the quasi-acoustic version felt lacking. Still, it sounded decent enough and I was in a great mood. Everything went so well during this first set that it pains me to write about the second.
After a 10-15 minute intermission, they launched into my least favorite song in their entire catalog, Soul Singing. A jammy Let Me Share the Ride kept it moving, so far so good. The Velvet Underground's Oh Sweet Nuthin', a song often performed live but not released, was next. It sounded good, but I am not a huge VU fan. Bob Dylan's Darling of the Underground Press was next. This was a B-side, and I've got it somewhere. Nonfiction was great as usual live. It started sprawling, and gave me a sense of uneasiness. Uh oh, two covers and now a jam. Where could this be going? They stuck with the Amorica record, doing Ballad In Urgency, one of my all-time favorite songs by The Black Crowes. It was going great until the jam. A jam which went into Wiser Time, which was marred by another jam. A long jam. I was admiring the carvings on the walls and ceilings of ye olde State Theatre, checking Facebook on my phone, etc. The jam continued. I looked over at my wife, who was asleep. I laughed pretty hard at that, but it was understandable. After several months, they were done. The intro to Thorn In My Pride seemed to wake the crowd up, myself included...until the jam. Yes, a jam. Another jam. A mind-numbingly long jam that must have bored even the stoned hippies in the crowd. A large portion of their fanbase seems to like this jam bullshit, but I am not that into it. A little stretching, some noodling, an occasional vamp, whatever. Maybe a solo or three. But this endless jamming drives me insane. The encore was the 'disco' song, I Ain't Hiding. They said their thank yous, and that's all she wrote, babe. Again, they played and sang well, but I just can't dig on jams. I am glad that I went, and will be there in 18 months or five years or whenever the hiatus ends, but I just wish that there would be less jammin' and more rockin'. Dig?

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