Written by Samuel Barker
Jul 02, 2006 at 08:00 PM
ImageThis past Sunday was a great day for music in the Bayou City and for me personally. The Black Crowes came to town with Robert Randolph and the Family Band.

For me, The Black Crowes are a special band. Way back in 1993, my older brother dragged me along to one of their concerts. For the band, it was a wreck: a speaker fell into the audience, the security was way too tight and the feel good vibe from the audience wasn’t there for the band to feed off of. For me, it was a pivotal moment in my development as a rock n’ roll fan. There was defiance, amazing riffs and a vibe from the stage that brought it all together. I was lucky to have an older brother who took me along to see concerts that shaped my future like it has. That made this trip to see the Black Crowes so much better.

It was a dismal day up until the show. The sky was gray and rain fell most of the day, but upon arriving in the Woodlands, the sky lightened up a bit, a nice cool breeze blew and the sounds of fine rock music filled the air. It was definitely a day one would not expect to see on a July night in Texas, which made it even more enjoyable.

The Black Crowes kicked the night off from the darkness. Only the outline of mushrooms on the stage as the band piled from the backstage area, then the music began. Chris Robinson took the front of the stage with an acoustic strapped on and began Torn and Frayed. The audience instantly responded with singing and dancing. For once the security wasn’t ridiculously tight at the Woodlands and the audience responded. The lawn section was a sea of motion throughout the entire set as the band launched into many of their obscure, less commercial songs to reward the true fans who showed up to the concert.

Some people have complained that the band, since regrouping, has developed a jam-band style vibe. You can definitely see it, but when the band is working with such an large catalog, a strong familiarity with the songs and ever increasing talent, it’s only natural for them to extend and rework the classics to keep everything fresh. For me, this was the best treat about seeing the band, nothing felt like it did on the albums, the songs took on a new life.

For a band that has been around for over two decades, the Black Crowes brought their music and offered a nice arrangement of songs from their entire career and did not concentrate on the heyday of the mid-90s to get some cheap applause. If it is a greatest hits collection you’re looking for, buy a CD…when you go to a concert, expect to see the band perform songs they love and want you to hear. That is what a concert is all about.

Opening the show was Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Having seen Randolph on various award shows and events, I knew he was an amazing pedal steel player, which he showed by performing Voodoo Child (Slight Return) to close his set, but Randolph impressed with his Telecaster as well.

With a mixture of blues, rock and gospel, Randolph and his band got the audience dancing and got the good vibes rolling for the Black Crowes. The solid mix of southern influences all over this show made me proud to come from a region with such soulful, inspiring music.

For a younger performer, Randolph controlled the stage well and made a huge impact from a chair in front of his pedal steel. Very few people have the charisma and skill to lead a band from a chair and keep the energy level high, but Randolph pulled it off with no problems.

With the summer underway, I could see this being a solid pacesetter for the rest of the concert season. I know I’ll have a hard time seeing a show I could enjoy more. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of remembering the good times of going to concerts with my older brother, the memory of that first Crowes show I saw that made such an impression on me or perhaps just the amazing music provided from two great bands…either way, this was a show to see.

***photo note: We didn’t have photo passes for the Crowes, so the best I could do was camera phone on the video screen…sorry!***

The Black Crowes’ Set List:
Torn And Frayed
Seeing Things
Give Peace A Chance
Stare It Cold
Thick N’ Thin
Soul Singing
Song Of Love
My Morning Song
Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine
Sometimes Salvation
Wiser Time
Space Captain