The Black Crowes bring their shambolic brand of retro rock to Amsterdam’s Paradisio and GSTV’s Mad Dog Blogger brings us his review
By The Mad Dog
Fittingly, Amsterdam’s historic 1,500 capacity Paradiso Club played host to two sold-out Crowes shows on the second leg of a European sandwich tour which saw US dates as the filling in between the two city and festival bounces around Europe. Granted, these guys need the obligatory hiatus every once in a while so the brothers can sort out their differences and cool off. But when they work, they work damned hard.
For the Paradiso, think Europe’s version of the Fillmore in San Francisco – a 19th Century former church building commandeered by squatting hippies in 1968 (as it was a bit last night !) before enjoying a re-birth as a must-play venue for just about everyone. “Keef” Richards said some of the best Stones’ live shows took place there and he’s been at all of them so he should know. It’s even located in the Dam’s pseudo Haight-Ashbury neighborhood (Editor’s note: Isn’t that all of Amsterdam a pseudo Haight-Ashbury neighborhood?) and you can just about smell a little bit of every gig that’s ever taken place there.
Complete with a backdrop of stained glass windows, the ornately-carved, double balcony balustrades lend the inside a look of the outside of an antebellum mansion….how apposite then that Georgia’s finest should bring their Southern, country attitude to this former place of worship…..it’s just missing the Fillmore’s chandeliers.
I have always thought of the Black Crowes as 5-hour performers – that’s not necessarily how long they play, that’s just how long you should drive to see them. This is a proper band, a musician’s band, a band whose members are sweetly in synch with their respective instruments and the sum of whose parts produces blues-tinged country rock of, at times, symphonic proportions.
As always with the Crowes, some things surprise and some don’t. For a band which typically jams easier than the LA freeways, most renditions tonight are per the record rather than extended, 12 inch, mega-meandering versions. Also, no covers but no matter – we get to hear more songs, especially since Chris isn’t in a particularly chatty mood tonight. For the Crowes nerds out there (and you know who you are, you’re the guys who wanted to photograph my set list in the bathroom after the show, exchanging URLs at the urinal…… weirdos!), it shouldn’t have come as much of a shock to hear opener “Under a Mountain” whose line “laying down with the number 13″ also names this tour….hippies like that shit. Amsterdam’s hippies love that shit.
Having tousled the crowds hair and knee’d them in the groin, the Crowes proceed to administer a mighty playground roughing up with a blistering triple assault of “Good Morning Captain”, “Hotel Illness” and “Black Moon Creeping.” The outlier surprise tonight is probably a dusted off and polished up “Medicated Goo,” which precedes a somewhat curtailed, but no less orgasmic “Wiser Time,” clocking in at a mere nine minutes – I’ve seen them double that but never gratuitously, always with purpose and intent.
Amidst eye-watering guitar changes (now that would be a tour truck worth hi-jacking !), the band cools their engines with back-to-back, old and more recent acoustic favourites, “She Talks To Angels” and “Whoa Mule”, the former inspiring a slow, sloppy smooch between two glassy-eyed, tatoo’d skinheads near me…..ah, that Amsterdam feeling, eh ?
Having caught its collective breath, the clammy crowd is then whipped up for the right, left and sucker punch of set closers, “Sometimes Salvation”, “Jealous Again” and a rousing “Thorn In My Pride”, Jackie Greene and Rich Robinson trading licks on the latter like sparring swordsmen whilst the band lay it down good and heavy.
By encore time, the crowd don’t care if the Crowes tickle them with a feather or peck them into submission. A thoughtful trio of codas in the encore reiterate the bands powerful vocal qualities and leaves the fans with that post-Chinese banquet feeling – two hours after it started, you’re hungry for more.
A mate of mine is part of the band’s six-man technical crew so I got to hang out at the sound check where the band spent half an hour working through the middle eight of “Magic Rooster Blues,” perfectionists to a fault – they got it bang on during the show. I just wanted to go home and burn my guitar because I don’t even sound as good as them when they’re just tuning up. After the show, the Black Crowes took the night bus to go rock Brussels, Belgium – not an easy thing to do as you know if you’ve ever been there (Belgians are so conservative, they get out of the bath tub to take a pee !) but I have the feeling the Crowes will do just fine. They’re just that good.
Under A Mountain
Good Morning Captain
Black Moon Creeping
Bad Luck Blues Eyes Goodbye
Magic Rooster Blues
She Talks To Angels
By Your Side
Thorn In My Pride
Encore – Oh Josephine, Oh Sweet Nuthin’, Willin’