Concert Review: The Black Crowes in Hampton Beach, NH on 6/19/09

Concert Review:
The Black Crowes
June 19, 2009
Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
Hampton Beach, NH

I’ve long been a believer in the theory that the venue defines the vibe at a rock and roll concert. Over time you begin to construct a virtual database in your head, mapping out the best and worst venues for particular bands.

It’s hard for me to believe that in all my years of concert-going I’ve never made the short trip up to Hampton Beach, NH to see a show. The Casino Ballroom is the perfect venue for The Black Crowes – it’s a big general admission room off the main strip in the fun yet trashy beach resort town. The feel of the room (except for the stage placement) reminded me of he first time that I saw the Crowes in 1990 at a barn in Cohoes, NY called Saratoga Winners. Sold-out general admission shows can be tough (cf. Hammerstein, NYC) but the crowd at Hampton Beach was great – lively, appreciative and respectful Amoricans just looking for a good time.

Unsurprisingly, the band opened up with a solid Good Friday. Risking life and limb, they then moved into the insane double-header of Young Man, Old Man and Blackberry. (I say insane because neither of those tunes are known by casual fans or really liked by the diehards, but the crowd was in such a good mood they ate it up anyway.) A real treat in Another Roadside Tragedy came next. Things then got heavy with Walk Believer Walk. A nice Nonfiction followed, featuring a six minute outro jam. An incredible My Morning Song came next, with Luther Dickinson absolutely on fire on the guitar.

Let’s talk about Luther for a second. I’m happy to report that Luther is finally “there.” He was on fire all night long on the Warpaint tunes, the covers and the catalog material. He was grinnin’, playing his ass off and delivering the goods. I am now officially on board with Luther. I’ll always miss Marc Ford, but I’m fully embracing the goodness that is Luther Dickinson.

Locust Street (which is a great album tune) provided a needed bathroom break. Next up was perhaps the finest performance of Girl from the North Country that I’ve ever heard. It was my highlight of the night. An amazing Comin’ Home came after and the momentum continued through the oldie-but-goodie Could I’ve Been So Blind, which featured a nice harp solo.

The greatest hits portion followed, with a solid run of By Your Side, Jealous Again and Remedy. The set came to a close with a Warpaint song that’s become a deserved warhorse in the live rotation – Movin’ on Down the Line. Once again, Luther was playing beautifully.

For a double encore we got a decent Descending and a great Don’t Do It.

As usual, the Crowes delivered. The addition of Joe Magistro on percussion really helped to add a new dimension to the sound. Chris and the Soul Sisters were in great voice, Steve and Sven were perfect all night, and I can’t say enough about Luther and Rich’s growing partnership.

It was a great performance, in a great venue, with a great crowd and a weird (but satisfying) setlist. All in all it was another magical night with The Black Crowes. August 27th can’t come soon enough.

(I still miss Ed, though.)

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You can find more concert reviews for The Black Crowes (and other hippie rock bands) here.

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