Review+Photos by Ken McCain
May 11, 2018 | Oakland, CA – First off, no one got hurt. In fact, everyone had a good time even while there was a murder upon the stage in Oakland. Yes, on the stage. Yet, there was no alarm. That’s because a “murder” is a group crows, and last Friday night a group of Crowes came together with a few others for a special night of music in Oakland. This was not just music, but for fans of American blues & kick-ass rock & roll. The Fox Theater played host while As The Crow Flies took over the ass-kicking duties. This was, of course, Chris Robinson’s briefly formed band while in between projects with The Brotherhood. He gathered top musicians to go out on the road and revisit the songs of The Black Crowes. They’ve had a 17 night, one month trip across America. Starting in New York and heading directly south, they took a hard right in Nashville, Tennessee and headed west as a crow flies to California.
More than 3 weeks into their tour, plus a day off between gigs to travel up the 101 & 880, they seemed more than ready to deliver to the near capacity crowd at the storied The Fox Theater. After the opening act, the fans continued to pack the floor while the others above took their seats. It seemed a sense of energy was filling the room, although it might have been the incense on stage, as an exciting evening of music of The Black Crowes was set for the next 2 hours. And with plenty of their Crowes tunes and others to draw from, their 17 song set nearly did.
Though heavy on Crowes music, it was hinted early in their tour that they might try some Led Zeppelin. Instead they opted for CSNY, Joe South, Johnny Winter, and California’s The Doors, which may all add up to Led Zeppelin, depending on how you do the math. Of course, one additional cover should be added, that of Otis Redding’s 1968 “Hard to Handle”. If this didn’t put the Crowes initially on the dance floor, it certainly brought them to the dance. Cocky and sassy, their version helped to define to the world their confident attitude.
As they opened the show with “Remedy” I was knocked back a few feet, maybe from that great opening power chord riff of F – E – C, or because it had been the song I’d been singing for the last two weeks (and here it is!) Die-hard fans would have seen it coming, though, as it was the band’s traditional opening song paired with “Sting Me”. It certainly was a huge one for the thousands behind me too, because the SRO floor, stairways, and seats were on their feet and loudly singing every word. Robinson then took us through many of his favorite Crowes songs, while knowing which ones the fans all loved to hear, too.
The band is comprised of many past and present Crowes and Brotherhood, guitarist Audley Freed and bassist Andy Hess, CRB drummer Tony Leone and keyboardist Adam MacDougall, as well as young famed guitarist Marcus King. The tour has concluded and Robinson has said they are going back to work on a new album for CRB and are booked through next year. We will all have to wait to see if anything happens with more Crowes dates then.
Twice as Hard
By Your Side
High Head Blues
Almost Cut My Hair (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover)
She Talks to Angels
Thorn in My Pride
Hard to Handle (Otis Redding cover)
Hush (Joe South cover)
Peace Frog (The Doors cover)
Rock & Roll
Hootchie Koo (Johnny Winter cover)
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