Concerts

UPDATED: Last Night: The Black Crowes at House of Blues

UPDATED (Tuesday, 9:55 a.m.) to correct the mandolin player on "She Talks to Angels."

The Black Crowes House of Blues April 26, 2013

Over the past nearly quarter-century, Chris Robinson's lyrics have shown no lack of religious imagery. Angels and devils exist side by side in the lines of his notebook, and various jubilees among congregations go off with fiery fervor. Not surprising, as their second album, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, was named for an actual old gospel hymnal.

So it's only fitting that last night's Black Crowes concert was a bit of Sunday-night church, a faith-restorer in how a great rock and roll show can come from a band extremely comfortable in its own skin (or feathers), and who draw from their musical influences without being slavish to them, creating something that is...well...Crowesian.

If fact, the Black Crowes (the band, not the Night's Watch from Game of Thrones) have an interesting career in 2013. They drop records sporadically -- live and in studio -- when it where it suits them on their own label. They do no press interviews, haven't had anything resembling a radio hit in ages, can go on hiatus for years and them come back with a rejiggered lineup, yet still have enough of a dedicated fanbase to sell out the nearly 1,200-capacity House of Blues on a Sunday night -- with dozens turned away at the ticket counter.

It was simply one of the best pure rock and roll shows I've seen in a quite awhile, and one of the finest I've seen from the band ever.

The band clicked on all levels musically as the interplay between original members Chris (vocals) and Rich (guitar) Robinson and Steve Gorman (drummer), along with Sven Pipien (bass), Adam MacDougall (keyboards) and new guitarist Jackie Greene. The last in particular had some big Crowes feel to fill in the wake of Marc Ford and Luther Dickinson - and did so more than admirably.

But it was Chris who commanded the show and...actually had a good time! The sometimes surly frontman admonished not a single person in the crowd (much less had someone removed), and had a smile on his face somewhere between goofy grin and higher ground musical bliss the whole night.

The rail-thin, heavily haired 46-year-old also exuded amazing energy at the mike and with unique dance moves just as identifiable with him as Jagger's is to that front man ("Moves Like Chris?"). The audience certainly picked up on the positive vibes, though would have likely appreciated a bit more stage patter from the normally loquacious singer.

Interestingly, the set list was something of a Greatest Hits Tour, leaning heavily toward the first four, most commercially successful records and their best-known songs.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero