The Black Crowes
Mohegan Sun Arena
My most recent concert was the freak’n’roll extravaganza that is The Black Crowes. Now, I should disclaim this review by saying that The Black Crowes are my all-time favorite band. I’ve been seeing them with regularity since 1990 and I’ve been to some historic shows – from the first tour in a bar in upstate NY, to opening for ZZ Top before they got kicked off the bill, with Jimmy Page playing Led Zeppelin, at all of the festivals – HORDE, Further, etc. I even caught them in NYC for their reunion run last year. I’ve traveled to see them and I’ve never been disappointed. So this will not be an unbiased review. I’m a die-hard Amorican and no other band perfectly melds rocks, blues, soul, boogie-woogie and funk like the Crowes.
We were fortunate to score some freebies through the fan contest for the Mohegan Sun show. The seats were perfect – 5th row center between Rich and Eddie. While not the Tallest venue in the land, Mohegan’s Arena is nice, clean and had decent acoustics. We were smart enough to bring our earplugs, for while the Crowes are the best rock and roll band in the land, they are also the loudest.
It was our first “couple” trip to Mohegan (I’ve been several times on business before.) We’re not big gamblers (I’m truly an awful gambler always making foolish bets and cracking jokes) but the Crowes provided us with a good excuse to go down. They upgraded us to a suite, which was heavenly, and we arrived with enough time to have a few drinks, blow off the opening bands, and have a few more drinks.
The band is at a peak right now, with the core of Chris (vocals) and Rich (guitar) Robinson and Steve Gorman on drums. Our prayers have been answered, and Marc Ford is back on guitar, Weird Ol’ Eddie Harsch on keys and Sven Pipien on bass. It’s the perfect line-up.
Greasy Grass River was a nice opener – it’s great how the song build intensity to explode, like the show’s really starting, and I love the harmonizing. The Black Moon jam was nice, with Chris hitting the harp. Black Moon itself wasn’t as energetic as it can be. Cypress Tree was short and sweet. Got to Get Better in a Little While featured some really nice playing, the changes are really nice in that song and they nailed them. It was probably my favorite “unexpected song” of the night. Ballad in Urgency > Wiser Time was perfect as always, and the jam actually picked up some nice momentum before Wiser.
I must confess to a bathroom/beer break for Song of Love. The Thorn jam was definitely different and Thorn was great. The drum solo is such a throwback – Steve plays so hard and heavy. The band really isn’t the same without him. She Gave Good Sunflower was awesome. Pearly Queen was okay. The crowd was definitely up for the excellent Bring On, Bring On. A Conspiracy was hard and driving, and Jealous Again was fun as always. I was hoping for a Tumblin’ Dice encore, but Willin’ was a beautiful way to end the night.
All in all it was a very solid show – good set list, nice playing. The crowd was a little weak, but that’s what we can expect in larger venues. I will say, as much as I loved Johnny Colt, Sven is the perfect bassist for the band at this time. The Steve-Sven combo is very powerful and you definitely feel, as well as hear, the music.
As expected, the Crowes delivered. Mohegan was as expected – the curious mix of luxury, glamour and disgust that only a casino can provide. If you like rock shows, don’t miss the Crowes. I guarantee you a good time.