For the first time since Halloween 2001, The Black Crowes were reunited in arms, music and on the same tour bus at a rather intimate, secretive low-pro show (at The Staircase in Pittston, Pa.) last Monday night. Brothers Chris and Rich Robinson buried festering egos and drug problems to resurrect one of the greatest rock bands of our modern era. Perhaps the person most responsible for rejuvenating this family reunion is Kate Hudson, Chris Robinsonʼs wife. For a group who by 2001 was at the ends of its rope, traveling each in a separate tour bus, this concert marked for fans who gave a damn about good rock and roll, an unprecedented glimmer of hope that The Black Crowes will soar once again.
On Monday night, Staircase was filled to the maximum capacity of 500, and the Crowes came out flying, taking along every bouncing and dancing fan. The time warp began a little after nine, many fans waiting over two hours in a line that snaked around threequarters of the venue, waiting for the band to finish their pre-show meal.
Hunter S. Thompson said, “He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” The Crowes embodied that mindset on Monday night, not only rocking their greatest hits better than on their records or tearing through tasty B-sides, but also covering four different styles of music that have made the Crowes what they are today. Willie Dixsonʼs “Mellow Down Easy,” Crosby Stills and Nashʼs “Pre-Road Downs,” and Bob Marleyʼs “Pimperʼs Paradise” were all interjected throughout the set, along with Marshall Tucker Bandʼs “Canʼt You See.” Delaney and Bonnieʼs “Coming Home” was the final encore.
The show began as every fan for the last four years hoped it would: loud, fast, and sounding amazing. If “My Morning Song” was the “can” opener, I hope the Crowes are prepared to deal with an extremely large can of worms. Crowe fever has spread all along the east coast, whetting the appetites of thousands of Crowes fans, starving to see their black saviors ruling the rock scene once again. Itʼs not necessarily the albums the fans want: itʼs the live shows.
Five shows were originally scheduled at NYCʼs Hammerstein Ballroom from March 22-30. When they instantly sold out in eleven minutes, two more shows were added, which escalate the total ticket sales in NYC to 22,000. Just the smell of a reunion garnered main stage invitations to festivals like Bannaroo and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, all without one note of distortion being played.
Taking another stab at music and love, one of the most notorious rock and roll brother bashers, Chris and Rich are now once again brothers in arms, as they displayed Monday night with a hug on stage. Following past suit, those sneaky Crowes released a handful of bar/ club shows under a different name for a pre-tour warm-up. Monday nightʼs show was the debut of their probationary stint at the Hammerstein.
The Crowes aced hits like “Sting Me,” “Jealous Again,” and “Remedy.” They granted the “diehards” a show of classic covers and tunes all throughout their library. Greatest hits fans might have been a little lost at times, but the music was so entertaining it didnʼt matter.
“The show was a good start; they were working out the kinks,” said fan Josh Wojcik. The kinks were evident when new drummer Bill Dobrow had trouble counting in the band on the first encore “Under A Mountain.”
Overall, it was an incredible show, if not especially for the music then for the fact that this was their first public performance together in four years. The magnitude of the show was unprecedented.