Black Crowes Show The Virtue in the Predictable

by James Hendicott
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It’s a bit of a 2022 trend: the live show that focuses on an album, sometimes decades old, being performed as a whole in a glossy nod to nostalgia. Last week at the 3Arena, it was the turn of Georgia act The Black Crowes, who rolled out their 1990 debut ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ from start to finish. 

This is a slightly dull proposition for those who aren’t huge fans of the album, though it does take a leaf out of Liam Gallagher’s recent book, in that it reveals a good chunk of the setlist before the band are even in the country, which can certainly be a sales booster. 

In practise, though, it turns out quite nicely. Dubbed a ‘presentation’, The Black Crowes throwback is delivered as a live nine-piece (the band has only three formal members), and the kind of boisterous enthusiasm that makes the shining lights of their statement record, tracks like ‘Sister Luck’ and glorious Otis Redding cover ‘Hard To Handle’ reverberate in the exact context in which they were released. 

The Black Crowes were something of a throwback even in their 90s hayday, and their influences are utterly transparent: frontman Chris Robinson’s moves are drawn straight from the world of Mick Jagger, and their performance the kind of rootsy bustling blues rock that the Rolling Stones have been producing – and producing better than The Black Crowes could ever hope to – for decades. 

That said, they are lively, have a theatrical element to them, and perform like a band that have been together far less than their almost 40 years (in the best possible way). If shows are to present a band at their best, with a set full of guaranteed classics an embedded theme, why not? It certainly beats a run through of a fading band’s less heralded new material.

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