The Black Crowes Rock It Shake Your Money Maker Style With Peter Wolf at Xfinity Center (Mansfield, MA) (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

From the looks and sounds of it, the brothers Robinson have put aside their public differences and are now crisscrossing America celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Black Crowes’ debut album Shake Your Money Maker, which set the rock and roll world afire with such hits as “Twice As Hard”, the infectious “Jealous Again”, the endearing “She Talks to Angels” and of course the radio staple, a cover of Otis Reddings’ “Hard to Handle”. Several shows into the COVID 19-postponed jaunt, Chris, Rich, and the band brought their brand of loose, raw, and fun rock and roll to the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and delivered a-rockin’ seventeen song set. Los Angeles’ quartet Dirty Honey, fired up the audience with a smokin’ hot set filled with in-your-face rockers before the Crowes hit the stage.

As the house music and lights cut at 9:00, the hordes of Black Crowes fans let out a bevy of howls, screams, and cheers. The stage was set, not only with the band’s requisite gear, but a Wurlitzer jukebox and what appeared to be a functioning bar, complete with a bartender and customers to boot! A moment later, one said customer swayed her way to the jukebox, ‘dropped a coin” and selected a tune before shimmying her way back to the bar. Elmore James’ original recording of “Shake Your Money Maker” spilled out of the box as the patrons at the bar appeared to celebrate together. It wasn’t long into the song before the patrons split and the band members meandered out to the stage.

Rich Robinson grabbed hold of the single spotlight as he took his mark while brother Chris, sitting on an amplifier, subtly hid behind a large Crowes’ themed parasol. Rich smiled and slid into the slinky-opening riff of “Twice As Hard”. Chris popped up from his perch and pranced like a peacock, waving the parasol up and down and side to side before embracing his role with the microphone.

The band then proceeded to play Money Maker from front to back, for the first half of the set with vintage flair and energy. “Twice As Hard” was fab and it was followed by another hit, “Jealous Again’ for a one-two punch of classic Crowes. Highlights from the SYMM set also included the “live” and extended version of the undeniable “Hard to Handle” and the last two numbers which found Chris asking, ‘You know what rock and roll is? Blue Suede Shoes. You know what else is? Struttin’ Blues” which rocked as hard as any live era Crowes performance.

During SYMM’s finale offering, “Stare At Cold”. Robinson’s voice was notably more than impressive and mid song, Chris ducked out of sight while lead guitarist Isaiah Mitchell lit it up with his proficient slide work on his Les Paul. Chris appeared once again for the latter half of the song having switched out of his sweat-soaked long sleeve shirt and apparently opting for a Crowes concert T with its sleeves cut off. After “Stare It Cold” had wrapped, Robinson concluded with, “Well, that was that. This is this! And the band poured gasoline onto the fire with “No Speak No Slave” to get the second half of the set in motion. Dueling guitars between Rich Robinson and Mitchell conjured up the vintage sounds of this barnburner from the band’s second album, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Backup vocals, provided throughout by Mackenzie Adams and Leslie Grant, put this one over the top as a fan favorite for sure.

Chris Robinson caught his breath and declared, “We’d like to bring out a special guest, a little rock and roll royalty – Mr. Peter Wolf!” The mostly Boston-based crowd went berserk as the living legend danced on to the stage, clad in his traditional all-black attire, sunglasses and lion’s mane of curly black hair, to take center stage for a pair of classic rock and roll nuggets. The J. Geils Band’s “Cry One More Time” and the Valentino’s “Lookin’ for Love” had the audience shakin’ their own moneymakers while Wolf howled and Robinson blew his harp.

“Wiser Time” had the brothers trading vocal duties with the introspective and delicate gem. “Thorn in My Pride” gave keyboardist Joel Robinow room to shine as he nailed his parts adding to the song’s heady vibe. Brian Griffin (drums) and Sven Pipien (bass) kept the train a rollin’ throughout the entire set, as they humbly laid back, lost in the groove, giving the brothers room to soak in the spotlights. And just like “Angels” and “Hard to Handle” no Crowes show would be complete without the classic “Remedy” which reignited the crowd with intense vigor. It was full participation under the canopy of the amphitheater, and it was beautiful. “Remedy” wrapped the set and the band smiled and waved before the encore of “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Before slaying the classic and making it their own, which the Crowes are so good at with covers, Robinson pleaded, “If you see any of the Rolling Stones, tell ‘em we did a good job.” And just like that, the instruments were set aside and the whole ensemble lined up and took a bow before heading off stage and successfully leaving the fans wanting more.

Being an opening act is a tough task but one that Dirty Honey took on with confidence and more than enough ability. The L.A. rockers, who took full advantage of the whole stage, played no holds barred for a lengthy set that interestingly included drum, bass, and guitar solos. The band was tight and played most of their eponymous LP, some new tunes, and a cover. Highlights of their set included their latest killer single “The Wire”, “California Dreamin’” and “When I’m Gone”. But it was their smart choice of covering the hometown heroes’ “Last Child” by Aerosmith that won over the crowd. The band has recorded and performed “Last Child” frequently in their previous sets and pull it off effortlessly. The song that really struck gold in the set was “Rolling 7’s” which may just be their diamond in the rough. Dirty Honey’s sound could be compared to AC/DC meets Zeppelin with John Notto’s bluesy riffs and the bombastic vocal prowess of Marc LaBelle, all of which evoke sounds of the 70’s and 80’s arena rock legends. As the band has just one LP under their belt, they’ll certainly be a fun band to watch out for and listen to and they continue to find and mold their own sound.

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