Monday, September 13, 2010

The Black Crowes

Last night I capped off my weekend at the Ryman with a Black Crowes show. Getting there a little early, I must have asked a thousand people for an extra ticket before a guy finally came up to me and said "here man, take this." A free ticket. It was a miracle. The only extras I had seen were going for at least 60 bucks and it was after the show had started. Just goes to show, never give up on the ticket search.

I got to the balcony just as the Crowes were finishing their acoustic set opener, "Soul Singing", with the drummer playing a bass drum pep band style at center stage. I immediately went to my usual spot next to the light guy and focused my attention on the reason I really wanted to see this show. Luther Dickenson from the North Mississippi Allstars has been playing guitar for a couple of years and I knew this was gonna make for a good show. Not being a huge fan, I kind of knew what to expect but I had no idea what a show I was in for. The rest of the set was about as non-acoustic as an acoustic set can be. The guitar players played semi-acoustics and sat on stools, but the rest of the band played pretty full on. Even Luther played some rippin' solos. The set contained melodious versions of "Bring On, Bring On" and "Thorn In My Pride", and it was cool to hear the old hit "She Talks To Angels" as a set closer with Luther's flavor added in.

We took a long smoke break and missed the electric set opener, Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright", making it back to my seat in time for the last half of "Seeing Things For The First Time". It was clear that the band was ready to bring the boom with the second act. The guitar interplay between Luther and Rich Robinson sounded really natural with about a hundred different guitars throughout the night and perfect chemistry between the players. Sven Pipien was solid on bass and Adam MacDougal had the perfect rock key rig. The was a B-3, a clav, a Wurli and a Rhodes, and a stand-up piano. What else does a rock band need? As the set wore on, I was sure that every song would be the last one. They just kept on playing and the energy kept getting stronger. The last run of "Jealous Again", "Remedy", and "No Speak No Slave" were, in my opinion, the strongest of the night. The jam in NSNS peaked over and over again and they left the stage to a stained glass shattering applause. When they came back for the encore, it was no surprise when they played Eric Clapton's "Don't Know Why" and closed out with their staple hit "Hard To Handle". As they walked off the stage, Chris said "Thanks guys, we'll see ya' when we see ya'." I guess after this tour ends, so does the band, at least until they run out of money.

This show was almost like 4 shows in one. There was the incredibly righteous Luther Dickenson show, easily the highlight of the night for me. There was the Rich Robinson show, waiting with baited breath to see if he really was going to kill his brother or if he just looked like it. There was the Chris Robinson show, watching him dance around like a half velociraptor, half gay chicken, singing like only he can. And then there was the rest of the band show, with great keys, bass and percussion. There were even a couple of big legged women with plenty of soul singing back ups. But when all these things came together, the collective machine put one helluva sick mega-show. I'm glad I finally got to see these guys. They really are a great example of good ol' American rock and roll.

On a side note, I just wanna say how cool it is to be able to see two hall of famers in a row at the Ryman Auditorium. This place is a world-class venue. Sometimes it's easy to take it for granted when getting harassed by the senior citizen staff or waiting in the long bathroom lines, but seeing a show here creates a lifelong memory every time. Not to mention being able to cross the alley, sneak into the V.I.P party at Robert's Western World, drink free beer, and meet Patrick Keeler. Man I love this town.

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