As the sold out crowd milled around the Bank of America Pavilion enjoying the beautiful summer weather and few cold beers an anticipatory buzz hung in the air. The Black Crowes bluesy but energetic opener “Soul Singing” immediately provided the focus and direction the crowd was seeking. Lead singer Chris Robinson clad in jeans and a striped jersey began what was to be two hours of prancing, prodding and pirouetting around the stage. The crowd responded in kind; standing; dancing and cheering. Seasoned by four months of touring and rested after a series of New England dates requiring little travel, Chris exclaimed, “Welcome to the Tuesday night rock and roll show!” The band then rolled straight into “Halfway to Everywhere” before the crowd’s raucous approval subsided. The live version featured an added, funked up, bridge section.
Guitarist Jackie Greene was stage left in jeans, white t-shirt and signature straw boater. Sven Pipien on bass anchored the rhythm section with drummer and original member Steve Gorman. Stage right found keyboardist the once clean cut Adam McDougall; who apparently hasn’t had a haircut since joining the Crowes over five years ago. Guitarist and brother Rich Robinson was stage right dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt. While cool for July Rich was still slightly overdressed.
My criticism that the set lists for this tour have been too familiar was not an issue Tuesday. By Your Side, B-side “Peace Anyway” was well received by the many hard-core Crowes’ fans in attendance. Chris belted out the soulful vocal through a haze of Nag Champa incense burning at his feet. Other than the incense the stage was stark. A white screen backdrop displayed various psychedelic images through-out the show.
A rollicking, “Good-bye Daughters of the Revolution” was followed by two more rarities: “She Gave Good Sunflower” and “Girl From A Pawnshop”. “Sunflower” featured the first jam of the evening with Greene both stretching and scorching the guitar solo. The “PS, all my love” repeating lyric in “Pawnshop” saw the 5,000 strong providing the chorus while Greene took the lead into the stratosphere. Greene who staggers with eyes closed as if in a zombie-like trance during solos had Chris both smiling (the night was full of rarities) and repeatedly offering praise.
With the band, show and audience firing on all cylinders the group settled into a twenty plus minute version of the live standard “Wiser Time”. After Chris and Rich nailed the harmonies in the verses McDougall took the first solo. His body beset by twitches and spasms as his fingers danced across the Fender Rhodes, organ and synthesizer. Jackie Greene traded in the Gibson SG for a Les Paul searing another solo. Rich’s lead guitar solo showed the breadth of his abilities. The music came back around for a final chorus, “On a good day we can part the sea/on a bad day . . . glory beyond our reach”. At this point the waters of Boston Harbor were parting.
A strategically well placed, “She Talks to Angels” followed. The hard-core fans needed a break and a refill and the first-daters needed something they recognized. To the Crowes’s credit they tried to add life to the standard by having Chris centered between Greene on mandolin and Rich on acoustic guitar. The back-drop of a rising full moon which was then circled by a Jupiter looking planet during the song was however perplexing.
The band went right back to the jamming with an extended “High Head Blues” featuring Rich using guitar effects to provide a sitar slant to the vibe. The playing steamrolled into the Zepplin-esque, “Been A Long Time (Waiting on Love)”. The set closed with crowd pleasers “Remedy”, “Hard To Handle” and Deep Purple cover, “Hush”.
The band came back and was joined by opener the Tedeschi Trucks Band for feel good encores, “Let’s Go Get Stoned” and “Turn On Your Lovelight”.