When a band breaks up there is a void left in the fans who went to their shows and listened to their music. What has been happening more and more lately is that bands will go on the big reunion tour and be a money maker for the band. The fans also get to see the songs they love be played again. When this happens, it might appear that all is well on stage, but we don’t really know how much the band interacts with one another. It could all just be for show. When that happens, we might as well not have the fake on stage reunion and just have our memories.
The Black Crowes broke up officially in 2015 but haven’t played a show since 2013. For a long time, Chris Robinson didn’t play any songs from the band that he helped put on the map. His Chris Robinson Brotherhood project was focused on spacey psychedelic jams and not the southern and blues-based rock and roll of his former band. Last year Chris played a few acoustic shows in California and for the first time since the break-up played a number of songs he hadn’t performed since. Fans of the band became excited, but at the same time knew we were never getting the band back together for various reasons.
When it was announced that Chris was putting together As the Crow Flies and that they would be playing the music of the Black Crowes, there was a lot of talk that he was doing it for a cash grab. He seemed though, at the acoustic shows last year and any interviews before these shows, to be interested in returning to these songs and singing them for all of the fans. Just because a band doesn’t fully get back together, doesn’t mean that parts of bands can’t return to those songs. During the entire opening night at The Capitol Theatre, Chris was all smiles and gave every song his all. He finally has come to a point where he can sing these songs despite knowing the band is never getting back together.
The sold-out room was wild, loud, and enraptured by the band from the moment they took the stage until the last note of the evening. “Remedy” blared from the stage and to see Chris just being a frontman again without a guitar in hand and be able to dance and groove around the stage to the music was great. Joining him in the band were ex-Black Crowe members Audley Freed, Andy Hess, and Adam MacDougall. Hearing them all play these songs again with Chris was tremendous. Audley was on fire all evening, especially on the ending of the cover of “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Wiser Time” and his solo on “Nonficiton.” Andy stayed perfectly in the pocket all night, keeping right in time with Tony Leone who’s drumming was great and sounded like he has played these songs for a long time. Adam’s big highlight came in “Wiser Time” when his solo really went on an exploration and the crowd roared in approval.
Marcus King was the big question mark in this ensemble and for the beginning part of the night he was careful to overstep his bounds. The 22-year-old is playing with a lot of veterans on stage and it took him some time to get comfortable. First night jitters happen, but he had some great solos in “If It Ever Stops Raining,” “Good Friday” and “Thorn in My Pride.” I’m betting as the tour goes and Marcus gets more comfortable playing these songs in front of audiences that he will take charge of these songs and bring a little more to the table. One aspect that was definitely lacking from this crew were vocals other than Chris’s. Again, I think it was more so it being night one of this band than anything, and I’m interested in hearing some of the shows later in the tour.
The show ended with a run of “Jealous Again” right into “Hard to Handle” that had the band play “Hush” in the middle of it before bringing it back to “Hard to Handle.” The encore break was barely a minute before they came back out and played a perfect cover of Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World.” It was almost as if Chris was telling the crowd how he wished he had sung these songs sooner, but at least he was singing them now. Thought we’re never going to get the full reunion, we can enjoy hearing the songs by the voice who helped define them for the next month.
Article: Bryan Lasky