The Chris Robinson Brotherhood brought their cosmic groove to a packed house at Portland, Oregon’s Revolution Hall on Saturday, December 2nd. There was no opening act, ensuring fans would have two full sets to find the flow with these seasoned road warriors.
Together, Chris Robinson (guitar, vocals), Neal Casal (guitar), Adam MacDougall (keys), Jeff Hill (bass) and Tony Leone (drums) are a well-oiled machine, smoothly working through selections from their vast catalog of originals and cover songs. The band has been creating a lot of new music over the past few years, and on Saturday they played six songs from their latest studio effort, 2017’s Barefoot in the Head.
“Tulsa Yesterday,” from 2012’s Big Moon Ritual was a first set standout, flowing into spacious psychedelia and featuring a Neal Casal slide guitar solo. That was followed by a fun, Brotherhood-filtered take on “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line,” a Jimmy Bryant tune made famous by Waylon Jennings.
“Dream Baby” got the second set off to a fun start, and after “Venus In Chrome,” There was a four-song span of Barefoot in the Head compositions. “Behold The Seer” brought a powerful jam, with MacDougall laying down some of his unique, funky key lines, Robinson ripping a harmonica solo, and Casal launching the whole affair into orbit. After the applause died down, “She Shares My Blanket” brought a more mellow groove. The “Good To Know” that followed provided a natural bridge to the more driving “Narcissus Soaking Wet.” Fans sang along with the “Rosalee” that followed, which brought and end to the set. The encore of John Lennon’s “Watching The Wheels” brought the evening to an emotional, nostalgic end.
There’s a certain sense of discovery at a Chris Robinson Brotherhood show. The varying set lists and stalwart musicianship keep audiences on their toes. And, judging from appearances, it keeps the band on their toes, too. Flashing smiles across the stage, these guys were having fun and surprising each other as they explored the music. Like a loving embrace that brings a sense of well-being, CRB’s groove is comforting and infectious. It drives steadily ahead, ever patient and malleable enough to encompass true improvisational moments. They are masterful at finding a magical balance that is both soothing and spellbinding.