Monday, October 28, 2013

Review- The Black Crowes w/The Blind Boys of Alabama @ Terminal 5 in New York City, NY, on October 26, 2013

The Black Crowes w/The Blind Boys of Alabama @ Terminal 5 in New York City, NY, on October 26, 2013.
My wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage with a weekend trip to New York, with the main event being The Black Crowes. Terminal 5 is a nondescript building without so much as a marquee on it. Indeed, if not for seeing the line going in, one wouldn't even know it was a concert hall. New York's infamous Hell's Kitchen didn't scare me one least the watered down 21st century version that I saw. By Detroit standards it was Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
The venue is a narrow, cavernous beast with three levels. We were really close, being 9-10 rows from the stage if there were seats. The sound was incredible from where we were. I normally like to poke around venues and see how it sounds in different spots, but we got there before the openers and didn't want to lose our spot. Various Yelp users seem to hate the place, citing sound quality as the #1 complaint. It was great from where we the front. This place holds 3,000 people, and I did walk around all three floors when we arrived. Looks like the third floor would blow if you were stuck up there.
This was my third Crowes show this year, and like the one we caught in August, they opened with Under A Mountain. I've got to say that the fellas were on fire right out of the gate. Chris was wearing a Neil Young and Crazy Horse ¾ sleeve baseball jersey with a black body and white sleeves. Awesome. Gone was a great one to hear live, as I've never heard them play it before. Exit...shit, what can you say other than wow? I mean, seriously, if you want to dig deep, then this is holy grail shit. I have this one on the bootleg from the Tall sessions, but I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that they would dust this off live. Never. It's a really hard funk type of song that I can't figure out why they've never used on an album before. 
No Use Lying was The Crowes at their darkest live. The eerie guitar effect on the intro, the red lights...Chris looked and sounded positively evil, like some evil wizard. He sounded incredible tonight, easily his best vocal performance out of however many Crowes/solo shows I've been to. His voice was clean and he was singing high with no cracks or clipping notes. Everyone was singing good tonight, and the band was mighty fierce. My favorite Crowes gig has always been the February 1999 show at the State Theatre in Detroit, and this was really close to matching it. 
Black Moon Creeping was up next. Virtue And Vice is always great to hear live. By Your Side is an underrated album that seems to be overlooked live, so I was happy to hear it. Again, Chris Robinson's vocals were great. He was really working the stage tonight. He always does, but he was like a caged panther or something, really into it. The whole band seemed really, really into it. They seemed to have tapped into something really cool this year and it bums me out that they are going back on hiatus after this tour wraps in December. I would love to hear a new album with their spirits this high.
They did Sister Luck at the August Detroit area show, and this was only the second time that I have heard them do this one live. Everything about tonight had a point, like the band was really going for the throat. Even the jammy intro to Thorn In My Pride had a sense of urgency to it. Whatever it was that they were into tonight, bottle that shit up. It worked. 
Nonfiction is always done in different arrangements live, and I've seen it go from cool to maddeningly dull. Tonight's version was cool. Isn't It About Time was tonight's Rich Robinson lead vocal spot cover tune. Then we got Soul Singing. The crowd loves it. My wife loves it. Obviously the band loves it, because I can't get away from it live. It is the only song in their entire catalog that I would classify as getting on my nerves. I can't put my finger on why, but I just can't dig on this song. It has become a running gag between my wife and I whenever they launch into it. 
Sting Me, Twice As Hard, and the Hard To Handle/Hush/Hard To Handle medley gave the crowd the one-two-three punch that the band has been doing for this tour. The songs change every night, but they tend to do a few songs in a row, usually singles, to bring it home for the more casual fans in the crowd. I can dig it.
The encore was monumental. I love every album that the band has done, and dig hearing stuff live from all of them. I knew something was up when Chris slung a guitar around his neck. He was a surprisingly good lead player on Wee Who See The Deep. While that song was great, the next song is what really blew my mind. The Led Zeppelin B-side Hey, Hey What Can I Do capped off a great night. My wife was bummed that we didn't get Remedy, but I can live with that tradeoff. Seriously, go back and peek at that setlist and tell me you wouldn't have been happy with this show.
Like the other two shows that I caught on this tour, they played a tight 2 hour set that left the crowd begging for more. I've seen The Crowes do three plus hour shows that have left the audience begging for mercy. Better to leave everyone wanting more. I'm bummed that this is it for who knows how long. Two years? Ten years? Hopefully sooner than later. 
On the walk back to our hotel room we saw the work crew put up the Christmas decorations at Radio City Music Hall. We walked by it on the way to the show and none of that stuff was up yet. Crazy. My Mom always wanted to see this city, especially Radio City Music Hall. It kind of bummed me out but we had a great trip overall. 

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