Since their early 2005 re-formation — the official tour opened in Houston — the Black Crowes have been on the road almost constantly. This time through, fans might get an early listen to some of the songs on next spring's studio album, none of which have reportedly been played live. Of course, casual listeners will yell for "Hard to Handle" and "Sting Me," but the Crowes have always used the stage to explore every nook and cranny of their available catalog, with scores of unreleased tracks and covers ranging from Little Feat to Jimmie Rodgers. With a repertoire close to 400 songs strong and a mantra to make each show unique, they send tape traders into a Grateful Dead-like obsession. The Crowes have been in flux recently; troubled guitarist Marc Ford quit via fax last year, and longtime keyboardist Ed Harsch was dismissed almost immediately thereafter. And while some insist on seeing them as a retro band or Stones/Faces Lite, night after night, they prove something quite different to their hemp-headed faithful.
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