Partying Peeps would like to welcome our new author (and fellow MHS Alumni) Jim Cunningham. I met Jim at The Cellar Bar in our hometown of Larchmont, he is one of the rockstar bartenders he was a grade below me in high school and it turns out we both followed the Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion. Jim also write for Honest Tune.By Jim Cunningham
Helm and The Crowes Light Up Central Park
Helm and The Crowes Light Up Central Park
For the first show since the official release of their new double live album “Before the Frost…Until the Freeze” the Black Crowes rocked Central Park with one of the best one set shows one could hope for. Mixing the perfect amount of new material along with crowd favorites from years past the band looked like they have really gelled. The Crowes two newest members (lead guitarist Luther Dickenson and keyboardist Adam MacDougall) sound like they have been with the band for years.
The Crowes opened their set with “Good Morning Captain,” the first track off the electric album “Before the Frost….” Throughout their recent tour this song seems to be a popular opener and fittingly so as it is packed with energy and straight to the point. Larry Campbell joined the band for this song and played banjo like on the album. “Make Glad,” another new song which features a cool little solo from Sven Pipien (bass) came next. Containing a great bass-line along with a free and easy solo by Dickenson this song has the potential to become a staple in their live repertoire.
“Soul Singing” has become a crowd favorite over the years for its extended jams when performed live though this time out it seemed as it was cut a little short. Campbell once again came out for another guest spot as he played fiddle (remember, everything with strings) on “Shine Along,” a song off the second all acoustic album titled “…Until the Freeze.” Campbell again sat in with the Crowes playing pedal steel on the next three songs including the new and amazing “Roll Old Jeremiah” right into “Good Friday.” The intense acoustic jam out of “Jeremiah” into Rich Robinson’s (guitar/vocals) slow and dirty blues intro into “Friday” could have been the best part of the show. Combining two decades into one amazing groove shows how comfortable the new incarnation of the Crowes feel when they play together.
One thing that seemed a little different about this show was that Rich seemed to have a little more freedom when it came to solos and during “Wiser Time” he really let loose. Although Luther and Larry were great together sharing the same side of the stage, when it came time for Rich he didn’t disappoint. Playing with his entire body, he received a huge ovation when he finished. After the crowd quieted down a bit, Steve Gorman (drums) kicked into a beat which was so precise it sounded like a drum machine. “I Ain’t Hiding” is the Crowes new single and comes out with a quick drum beat that has a bit of a techno vibe. The version you might have heard on FM radio really doesn’t do the song justice considering they chopped out most of the solo to make it more “radio friendly.” A song about drugs and life on the road it’s safe to say Chris wrote this song based on first hand experience.
Photo Credit Brad Wana 2009
Covers have always been a staple in the Black Crowes catalog and one of their newest is a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’.” First played by the Crowes during the recording sessions in Woodstock at Levon Helm’s studio, this has turned into one of their most downloaded live songs. Rich on lead vocals provides a much mellower tone that really makes the song. With Chris on electric guitar providing a nice back-up rhythm, Luther went nuts on the solo. He took this song to a new level. A long track with a great lead guitar on the original album Loaded, Luther took the original arrangement and ran. There is no doubt that some of the people in the audience have never even heard the original version but everyone had their jaws on the ground by the end of the song.
Throwing in two classics like “She Gave Good Sunflower” and “Sister Luck” kept everyone on their toes not knowing if they were going to close the set with new or old songs. “And The Band Played On” is another new track with a wonderful chorus –And the band played on/ through the storm/ through the wicked, wicked rain/and the band played on/in golden harmony-that will turn into a sing-along on future tours. Looking for some more fire power the band played two of their most fan friendly songs, “Sting Me” and “Remedy” off their 1992 release The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion.
To close the show another new song titled “Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)” was chosen. A fast paced tune with raucous vocals by Chris Robinson, “Been a Long Time” has been used in this slot recently and it appears it has found a home. For the encore Larry Campbell came out to play “So Many Times,” a Chris Hillman/Stephen Stills collaboration from the early seventies. After a slow start to the encore the Crowes turned it up to 11 with “Thick N’ Thin,” a song with shades of the Stones and Faces all rolled up into one.
The Black Crowes are scheduled to tour until the first week of December where they will play 5 shows in 6 days at The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA. Considering that they seem to only be getting better one can only imagine how they will sound in that classic setting.