The Black Crowes | April 12, 2024 | Greek Theatre | Los Angeles, CA – Concert Review

0
249

Review by Jordan West

The iconic Greek Theatre in Los Angeles opened their 2024 season with a bang, as the Atlanta- based rockers The Black Crowes came to town and gave their audience a classic taste of rock and roll, on a chilly night in Griffith Park. Presented and promoted by Nederlander Concerts, the classic venue was sold out, and the excitement was buzzing amongst the faithful fans, who have been “wanting and waiting” for the band to return to the LA area for the first time since 2021.

After a rousing opening set from Billy Tibbals, who is signed to Crowes singer Chris Robinson’s Silver Arrows Records, the crowd had settled in to their seats and the beverages were flowing, but anticipation of the headliners were first and foremost on most people’s minds as the whoops and chants for the Black Crowes were everywhere.

The Black Crowes recently released Happiness Bastards, their first LP in 15 years, and got right into it immediately. The curtains parted, and the band tore into “Bedside Manners” from the new release, it’s double-time stomp immediately bringing the crowd to their feet like an old-fashioned Southern church revival. Similarly, the stage setup had the look of one of those similar travelling Pentecostal road shows from yesteryear, with its string lights and a retro-looking banner across the top that said, Happiness Bastards. A large, lighted dressing room-styled mirror was positioned center stage, and supported a cantilevered second level, accessible by stairs, where the drums and keyboards were placed along with two background singers perched on stage right.

Singer Chris Robinson and his brother, guitarist Rich Robinson, joined by Argentinian-born guitarist Nico Bereciartua, bassist Sven Pipien, keyboard player Erik Deutsch, and drummer Cully Symington, were tight and obviously, well-rehearsed.  Continuing with another new song “Rats And Clowns,” singer Robinson, looking sharp in a bright red suit with a black shirt and matching black scarf, strutted across the stage and clapped his hands, while using his scratchy, pleading vocals to offset the solid guitar-based riffs.

The sold-out audience went wild for the opening chords of “Twice As Hard” from their 1990 debut album, Shake Your Moneymaker, and sang along to every word. Robinson addressed the crowd and spoke of recording their 1994 album, Amorica, not far from the Greek Theatre. The band then rocked “Gone” from that long-ago release. Bereciartua and Rich Robinson’s biting, crunchy guitar dueling added so much fire to the live performance, and an assortment of different amplifiers onstage kept the tones changing from song to song, and no doubt kept the crew busy all night.

“We got a surprise for you,” Chris Robinson announced. “He needs no introduction, but we’re gonna give him one anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ronnie Wood!” And out came the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist, smiling and carrying a guitar, looking for the right amplifier to adjust, before launching into the famous riff he wrote while a member of Faces, the classic “Stay With Me.” Naturally, the crowd went crazy, and Wood seemed very pleased as he and the Black Crowes nailed the song, beginning to end. Duetsch’s electric piano playing was on point, and Wood smiled at him from below, as Duetsch and Symington perfectly recreated the stops and starts of the original recording from 1971. Wood’s slide guitar tone was identical as well, and the entire Greek Theater — audience, band members, entourage, and crew — were on their feet and singing along throughout the number.

The band then settled down a bit for the waltzing blues of “Cursed Diamond” before returning to new material, including a blazing, Rolling Stones-like “Dirty Cold Sun” and the new album’s fabulous first single, “Wanting And Waiting,” which is fast becoming my favorite BC number. It has all the elements of a future classic as far as I’m concerned. A great guitar riff, a Hammond B-3 organ, heavy backbeat, and gospel-tinged background vocals, support Chris Robinson’s pleading croon. It sounded great live  and had me stomping my feet throughout.

The excitement continued as the band brought out keyboardist Chuck Leavell to join them for the crowd favorite and a funky cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle” as well as the tender ballad “She Talks To Angels” as the crowd serenaded the band by singing along to the lyrics. Leavell had a huge smile on his face, as he was clearly enjoying himself playing with this great band, knowing full well that he and Ron Wood would be back playing with the Rolling Stones soon.

A fan in the crowd had been holding up a home-made sign asking for the song “Fleshwound,”  yet another new one. Chris Robinson called out to the fan, saying “I see ya ‘Flashwound’,” and the band launched into the up-tempo number.  Robinson continued with asking the crowd if they were ready to dance, and the bass guitar-heavy, almost disco-sounding “I Ain’t Hiding,” a song from 2009’s Before The Frost…Until The Freeze did indeed get the crowd to show off their boogie shoes by dancing en masse and loving every minute of it.

An epic version of “Thorn In My Pride” turned into an extended jam, featuring all band members, but especially Rich Robinson and Nico Bereciartua, who traded guitar licks for what seemed like days on end. The song’s final crescendo brought down the house, and the Greek Theatre was literally shaking on its foundation — for tonight anyway — its “Money Maker.” The familiar opening guitar chords to their huge 1990 hit, “Jealous Again,” once again got the place shaking and stomping as the band really hit full stride.

Chris Robinson’s body language, as he strutted up and down the length of the stage, was infectious, and I really didn’t see a soul sitting down. They followed it up with another hit, the rollicking “Remedy,” a huge hit for the band from 1992 that again, spotlighted all the band members at their best. It was a great way to end their set.

The band then left the stage briefly before returning, with Chris Robinson thanking the crowd for coming and praising the Billy Tibbals and his band, and all the young rock bands in Los Angeles. He also gave props to the Greek Theater and asked how many had seen the Black Crowes at previous shows there. The band then cranked out  a rave-up version of the Velvet Underground classic, “White Light/White Heat,” that had the perfect call-and-response chorus directed by “maestro” Chris Robinson. Symington drove the pace of the song to new heights, and the background singers, Mackenzie Adams and Lesley Grant, were terrific. The band gathered at song’s end, centerstage, hugged, and told the cheering audience, “See ya next time,” before exiting into the Los Angeles night. Many in the crowd were left gasping and were all smiles while being witness to a great rock show by a great rock band.

The Black Crowes with Ron Wood

Bookmark and Share