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Long layoff doesn't hurt Black Crowes

Orpheum, Boston, March 11, 2005

By Jeffrey B. Remz

BOSTON - Prior to the start of the second night of the Black Crowes' gig, an announcement was made saying that the Crowes did not agree with the venue's policies limiting alcohol and smoking and concluded by saying that this was the last time the band would play the ancient building.

Based on the Crowes' performance, they should have no worries about whether their fans will follow them.

Four years away from the scene with brothers Robinson pursuing their own solo careers, the Crowes have lost none of their performing abilities from very active, sometimes hyperkinetic lead singer Chris Robinson to his four band mates and two backing singers.

The Crowes dipped into various parts of their catalogue and repeated none of the 16 songs they played the previous night during the meaty 2-hour show.

While that's great for people attending both nights, for the rest of their fans, that meant most of the group's hits ("Remedy," "Jealous Again" "Thorn in My Pride") were played the first night with "Hard to Handle" closing the second show.

The Crowes circa 2005 are less Stonesy based than they used to be with perhaps more of an emphasis on the Southern rock groups like the Allmans this time around. They rocked certainly and maintained a very healthy soulful and bluesy feel throughout.

Part of that is due to lead singer Robinson, a singer whose voice is well suited to the material.

Maybe akin to Jagger, Robinson doesn't seem quite know how to take it easy or stand still. He's moving, dancing, twirling around, even when he has nothing to do except get off on the music. He certainly keeps the pace going.

But Robinson did not do it alone. His mates certainly played a key role in forging a lively beat throughout. The key player was guitarist Marc Ford, who time and again came through with meaty guitar playing, while not resorting to any sort of histrionics.

Ford, along with Rich Robinson on guitar, engaged in several long guitar jams during the evening, which tended to work quite well. They would ride a jam to a logical conclusion only to start up again and go in a different direction, letting it rip for awhile longer.

A particular highlight was "Bad Luck Blue eyes Goodbye."

The Crowes certainly had theirs up and downs during their years together with brothers Robinson often, of course, in the spotlight for a less than amicable relationship.

Who knows? Maybe the time away doing their own thing musically and Chris Robinson getting married to Kate Hudson and having a child, has made them more mature and brought them closer together.

And the Crowes clearly were pleased with the evening as hugs and kisses were exchange.

Whatever the reason, rest assured that next time around, the Black Crowes may have an even larger family of musical fans following them around.

British band the 22-20s opened with a very strong 9-song, 40-minute set of rock and blues. Named after a Skip James song, the youthful group (they are in their 20s) have a bit of a dense sound, but not so heavy that it's hard to get into.

Lead guitarist and singer Martin Trimble's vocals (he has a tinge of a Jim Morrison feel) were not drowned in the mix. And he also knows how to play guitar.

With maybe 100 people on the first floor section of the concert hall, it would been understandable if the 22-20s weren't terribly excited and punched the clock. But that did not seem to matter as they scored with songs like "Why Don't You Do It For Me?" and "Got Messed Up."

They were up to the task in a strong outing from a solid band.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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