The Black Crowes - Live Review - Brixton Academy

The Black Crowes - Live Review - Brixton Academy

by mintyhit / Sep 30, 2022 / 0 comments
Tuesday, 27 September 2022

The Black Crowes celebrate their debut album at Brixton Academy. And, despite the passage of over 30 years, the songs still sound just as timeless, the renditions just as impassioned.

A group of people, including assorted members of The Black Crowes, amble onto the Brixton Academy stage and assemble at a bar set up at the back. They mill about while a bartender in black bowtie and pink dinner jacket mixes drinks. One man walks over to a jukebox and presses play. Elmore James’ Shake Your Moneymaker blasts out of the speakers.

It’s a little on the nose, but just one small indication of the thought and effort the band have put into these shows celebrating their 1990 debut LP. Admittedly, they’ve not messed with the tried-and-tested format of performing the whole thing, in order, from beginning to end. But all the issues of the now overly familiar classic-album-revisited tours are deftly sidestepped. Spanning 10 songs over 45 minutes, Shake Your Money Maker is a tight record with little-to-no filler; so, Side B is no slog. The band play the less-performed deep cuts with as much confidence as the big hits they’ve had to haul out night after night for three decades. There’s no pointless detour into long-forgotten outtakes. And, despite the passage of over 30 years, the songs still sound just as timeless, the renditions just as impassioned.

As the song fades on the jukebox, Chris Robinson comes barreling out, inexplicably brandishing an umbrella, as the band kick into Twice As Hard. Singing and moving as energetically as he waves his prop, the frontman’s performance for the next 90 minutes is just as flashy as his sparkly gold shirt and jacket.

The umbrella-as-baton soon makes way for the mic stand, frequently twirled above his head or used to lean at precarious angles — when he’s not hopping on the spot; swinging his arms out in front like some long-lost crazed ’60s dance move; swaying with one hand on his hip, the other up in the air; or taking bows so extravagant that his palms face forward. And somehow he’s still got enough breath to blast through the likes of Could I’ve Been So Blind, Hard to Handle, and Struttin’ Blues or fervently croon Sister Luck and Seeing Things.

Meanwhile, his younger brother Rich is a far more subdued presence, preferring to lay down blues licks, slippery slide guitar solos, or gritty riffs without drawing attention to his undeniable talent. He’s as quiet and reserved as Chris is not. And, apart from a seemingly contractually obligated interaction during Jealous Again (Chris drapes his arm around Rich’s shoulder as they share a microphone), the siblings have little to do with each other.

But, despite their well-documented tensions, at least they’re playing the same songs in the same band at the same time on the same stage. And there are frequent reminders that The Black Crowes begin and end with the Robinsons: Seeing Things literally puts them in the spotlight while the rest of the band perform in the shadows; She Talks To Angels begins with nothing more than Chris’ voice and Rich’s acoustic guitar; Soul Singing, similarly, grows out of the brothers’ performing together alone.

The latter, a buoyant celebration of their often-overlooked soul influences that’s not been played much on this tour, is one of the six songs not on Shake Your Money Maker that fill out The Black Crowes’ second night in Brixton. Tonight’s selection also includes a foot-stomping, hip-shaking By Your Side and a confident take on The Rolling Stones’ Rocks Off, alongside staples from their second album, The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion. My Morning Song takes on a full gospel glow, Thorn In My Pride becomes a big ol’ jam, and Remedy even gets the still-on-stage bartender moving (albeit somewhat less flamboyantly than Chris Robinson).

Rating out of 11: