The Black Crowes
April 22, 2005
Some songs are immediately recognizable by their drumbeats. The Black Crowes' "Hard to Handle" was one of those songs at Jazzfest Friday afternoon. It was the end of the set. Even though the band just did a stirring version of "She Talks to Angels," their concert was about rocking, not a ballad. It was appropriate they continued on and went back to a rhythm-heavy, soul-greased, bombastic number to end things. People sat up on the field at the Acura Stage when they heard that drumbeat start the song. Even better was that the live version furthered anticipation by continuing one measure longer without the bass. Like the band was saying, "Here comes the big song. Get ready."
The Black Crowes played uplifting, Gospel-influenced rock. Chris Robinson let his vocals fly with the background singers at his side during "Soul Singing." That song could have come right out of a progressive church. Robinson added to the song with soulful inflections, body-shaking, and clapping.
The Black Crowes showed their songwriting prowess and maturity during "Wiser Time," a pedal-steel colored song featured on album "Amorica." They didn't go for the throat on this one. At least not right away. The song went back and forth between simmering music full of longing and a high-on-the-mountain celebratory epic rhythm accentuated by Robinson's shout. Near the end the song broke out into a guitar jam until it went back to an extended chorus.
The band was good at what they were--being a tight, jam-capable band. That was also the problem. As the Stones said, you can't always get what you want, but The Crowes could have shortened one of their jams to fit in "Remedy." It sounds like it would have been a great live song.
Robinson wasn't on top of every vocal, but that's splitting hairs. The Crowes delivered deep-fried rock on a platter.
Don't Do It
Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye
Thorn In My Pride
Young Man Old Man
She Talks To Angels
Hard To Handle