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The Black Crowes – o2 Academy, Glasgow

You have to admire the beard

You have to admire the beard

The Black Crowes are back, and for anyone who likes their rock and roll with a dirty, whiskey-soaked tinge, this was intriguing. Always seen as a band for serious musicians, they enjoyed a fearsome reputation as a live act in their heyday. But how does the actuality measure up to the legend in 2013? Jericho Hill drum colossus Al Pritchard found out.

Not quite the two and a half hour, ‘there’s good rockin’ tonight’ nostalgia-fest that I was expecting. Rather a somewhat perfunctory and emotionless trudge through most of the back catalogue.

I say most, because there were a few numbers that I didn’t recognise, including some sort of hillbilly hoe -down type thing about garden gates with a fucking banjo in it, that I’m guessing were off of Warpaint or, y’know, the other one that isn’t Lions, but strangely, nothing from the seemingly smack-influenced gloomy majesty of my personal favourite Three Snakes & A Charm made the cut. They did, however, appear to be paying some sort of deference to that period by playing much of the set in a slightly slowed down, plodding fog of general indifference.
It all started so well too. They arrived on stage without any fanfare or chit chat and kicked things off with a tasty trio of Jealous AgainThick ‘n’ Thin and Hotel Illness, before even saying “hello”.
I like that lack of patter thing, myself. Just get out there and get on with it. If I wanted to hear a singer talk a lot of pish I’d go and see Henry Rollins, or, y’know, Jericho Hill. Unfortunately, these opening three numbers were probably the highlight of the evening.
Amorica was well represented, but somewhat overplayed in the main. Wiser Time got the full treatment and our first proper indication of the tiresome soloing that was to come. Monumentally long intro, then knock out a couple of verses and a chorus before Robinson, R. gets his first solo. Very nice it was too, but then it’s the keyboard players turn for about 5 minutes, before guitar number two (wielded in a strangely robotic fashion by a chap called Jackie Green – who I suspect might actually be a teenage girl with a stick-on beard) gets a shot at showing us his string bending skills. Quite tidy they are t0o, for a girl in a fake beard.
So, everyone’s had their, turn can we get back to the song now? Only after Rich gets another go, this time using some sort of fadey wah-wah peddle thingy, which I’m not convinced he knew how to work.
Finally, and about three seconds before I would have been forced to chuck my £4.80 pint of lager at them, the metronomic man mountain that is Steve Gorman on the drums, recognises something in this 20  minutes of self indulgence/abuse that tells him this is the point where we all come back in again ( or maybe he was just bored too?) and I lift the overpriced plastic cup of Scandinavian beverage to my lips, instead of launching it stageward.
This solo-swapping would continue throughout the evening, Wasting, I reckon, a good half an hour which would have been better spent playing another song or six. Clearly they can all play, but once we’ve heard them all get an extended solo once, or possibly twice that’s probably enough, don’t you think?
There was mid set acoustic interlude (yawn) – this was where the banjo came out – and then everyone got plugged in again as we lurched to a close. Things were enlivened slightly by a rendition of Hard to Handle, (“a song that we’ve been carrying around for years”) which segued into and out of, a thumping cover of Deep Purple’sHush, and a pretty jaunty rendition of Soul Singing.
Overall, it seemed like they weren’t that bothered about the whole thing. “This is a rock ‘n’ roll show, you  know?” said Robinson C. at one point. He was correct, but it was a pretty bland one all told. Robinson R. moved about a step in either direction from his mic the whole night. Sven Whatsisface on bass and the weird man/girl/robot on other guitar seemed to be contained but some sort of invisible forcefield that prevented them encroaching on the increasingly decrepit looking Robinson C’s centre-stage patch. Never even in the top four of anyone’s best looking Black Crowe list, the years have definitely been nothing but unkind to old Chris.
Steve Gorman is still a percussive behemoth, mind. Looming over his minimal kit like Andre the Giant, he boots the living shit out of it without appearing to to do anything other than flick his wrists. He broke at least five sticks in two and a bit hours. I’m lucky if I’ve broken five sticks in my life, and I don’t think I could ever be accused of being a particularly dainty drummer.
Oh aye, and he doesn’t have a beard. The rest of them do. Steve Gorman doesn’t.
The ultimate kick in the baws for all in attendance, though, must surely be the fact that after the 2hrs 15mins of noodling and little outward enthusiasm from our favourite Atlantans, they finish the encore and toddle off to smell the incense and wander about barefoot on the dressing room without playing Remedy. Even the techs removing all of the mics and the electric guitar that had remained untouched by Chris Robinson (for ’twas his) all night wasn’t enought to convince everyone that the night was over and they weren’t coming back.
They aren’t coming back. Go home.
I gave them 7 out of 10, but I think I’m going to revise that to a 6.
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3 Responses

  1. you sound like a pretentious idiot. The gig was amazing and the jams were too,

    • I wasn’t at the gig, but can say with certainty that the jams weren’t good as all jamming is awful.

      Oh, and ‘pretension’ is good, as it stops us liking things that halfwits like. Like jamming.

  2. Pretentious? I’ve been called worse. I’ve seen them play blinding shows in the past, Euan but this wasn’t one of them. Oh, aye, and I managed to use ‘behemoth’. Beyond the vocabulary of yer average idiot, I reckon.

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