Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Black Crowes @ Olympia, Paris - October 5th, 2022

When The Black Crowes broke up in 2013 in a cloud of drugs and acrimony, it seemed pretty definitive. Rich Robinson denounced his brother Chris' attempted hostile takeover of the band, and everyone went their separate ways. The brothers formed offshoot bands The Magpie Salute and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood in an attempt to re-create the magic of the band, and drummer Steve Gorman's fantastic book Hard To Handle: The Life And Death Of The Back Crowes was seemingly the final nail in the coffin.

But then right in the fall of 2019, the Robinson brothers announced that they would assemble a brand new line-up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album Shake Your Moneymaker. Of course, the pandemic threw a wrench in those plans.

It's three years later, and it seems that the brothers haven't lost their momentum: their shows are sold-out, and most importantly the band is firing on all cylinders. At 55, vocalist Chris Robinson remains the ultimate rock n' roll frontman, part circus ringleader, part bullfighter, the perfect foil to his brother's curmudgeonly presence. It's a shame that former alumni like Marc Ford, Steve Gorman, Jeff Cease or Johnny Colt weren't included, but it's also understandable. And if their new backing band is comprised of faceless pros, the Robinson brothers possess more than enough charisma and star power to make up for their employees serviceable anonymity.

The setlist, of course, revolves around Shake Your Moneymaker, which they play in full and in sequence. To hear Rich's guitar and Chris' voice playing those classic songs is such a treat. If you start a show with a track as potent as Twice As Hard, you'd better have some equally strong numbers to back it up, and thankfully they have that in spades. It's so great to be able to hear all those songs, not just the classics like the aforementioned Twice As Hard, Jealous Again, She Talks To Angels or their version of Hard To Handle but also deeper cuts like Thick N' Thin or Stare It Cold. 

The great songs kept coming, even after they had finished playing their most celebrated album. Thorn In My Pride and Remedy, from their sophomore record, and some choice numbers from Amorica and Warpaint. The Rolling Stones' classic Rocks Off topped was played as an encore, topping off a brilliant evening of rock n' roll. 

After  decades of self-sabotaging, the Robinson brothers have entered the redemption part of their arc.  Hopefully, this triumphant tour isn't just a nostalgia cash grab but the beginning of a new chapter for The Black Crowes.

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