The Black Crowes, Brixton Academy, London
Wednesday 16 April 2008
The Black Crowes believe in a utopian sort of Seventies rock, a hard-played, hard-lived, freak-friendly style somewhere between The Allman Brothers Band, The Faces and the mid-period Stones at their most decadently loose.
Chris Robinson, who with his brother, Rich, has just hauled the band back together after some time away, fills the stage with such idealism. From the Persian rugs to the pulsing purple-and-red lights, he has turned the Brixton Academy into a luxurious hippie crash-pad, circa 1969. And as he prances towards us, you can tell he is trying to channel spirits as diverse as Otis Redding and Robert Plant. Much as Wynton Marsalis views jazz as a fixed heritage that needs to be preserved and passed on, so the Crowes do with rock's most debauched period.
It's fun for a while, helped by the high quality of the playing, which blasts to the rafters, bolstered by their new second guitarist, Luther Dickinson, of the North Mississippi Allstars. The notion that this first UK gig in three years will be a run-through of their new album, Warpaint, is ignored, as Robinson prefers to play long, gut-bucket blues notes on his harmonica on "Black Creeping Moon". For "Walk Believer Walk", he tries on the ghost of Otis's Southern soul, faithfully hitting high, extemporised notes.
The Crowes' early days, when they were little more than a Faces tribute act, have been replaced with a a Southern-fried version of Gram Parsons's Cosmic American Music. But other problems remain, and Chris Robinson is chief among them. Like Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, he is an acolyte of the great rock and soul stars but has been denied their attributes. Wispy and loose-limbed, he essays the campery of Robert Plant and Rod Stewart, but lacks the guts, substance and risk-taking that made them extraordinary at their best.
As when the drummer, Steve Gorman, tries a long drum solo, like Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, the difficulty of pulling such tricks off truthfully is made clear. It's too earth-bound, and hide-bound, to be cosmic. The band are better served when the spotlight falls on Chris Robinson alone, playing acoustic guitar on "Morning Song", before the band fall in, honkytonk-style, behind him.
For all their good heart, the Crowes' lack of tunes and original thought wears thin long before the end.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Greece crisis: Alexis Tsipras accepts troika bailout proposals with conditions
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
The Rolling Stones announce biggest ever touring rock exhibition with Saatchi Gallery
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
Guillaume Tell gang-rape scene causes uproar at the Royal Opera House
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS