The Black Crowes Fly High at Mid-Florida Amphitheatre in Tampa
Celebrating 30 years since the Black Crowes massive hit album “Shake Your Money Maker” was released, the Robinson brothers from Marietta, Georgia decided to hit the road and play it in its entirety. It is one of those things we didn’t know we needed but damn did we ever need it!
Opening the show was Los Angeles based band “Dirty Honey”. They have opened for Alter Bridge, Slash, The Who and Guns N’ Roses, who are one of their musical influences. The band has released a brand new video for their tune “The Wire”. Shot while on tour with the Crowes, it is a glimpse into life on the road. They played rousing 15-song set that opened with “Gypsy” and included a cover of Aerosmith’s “Last Child”. Great stage presence, vocalist Marc LaBelle keeps it rock fashionable as well as having some good pipes. John Notto on guitar gets a chance to shine on his solo. Justin Smolian is the wild man with the wild hair workin’ the bass guitar. Corey Coverstone handles the drum kit. Dirty Honey will be back in Tampa Bay for the 98 Rockfest at the Amalie Arena on Oct. 2nd. It’s good to know that rock and roll is far from dead with bands like Dirty Honey coming up in the ranks.
The Black Crowes stage set is a complete bar scene including a Wurlitzer jukebox that when started gives us a recording of “Shake Your Money Maker” intro which brings the Crowes to the stage opening with “Twice as Hard”, with Chris in a wide brim hat and umbrella. He reminds us that this is going to be a rock and roll show! Robinson’s vocals sounded great and have gotten richer with time. He didn’t miss a beat when some rain hit the stage early in the show, too bad he had already put the umbrella away! His dance skills are quite “Jaggeresque”; one can’t help but see Mick’s influence and maybe a little Steven Tyler too. They are the great front men of rock & roll and make no mistake Chris Robinson has his own style. In this writer’s opinion Robinson is another of the great front men of the rock stage. Rich Robinson handles the work of the guitar with many instrument changes throughout the show and backing his brother on vocals. The audience is on their feet the entire show, dancing and singing along to the ten tracks of the album which includes the hits “Jealous Again”, Otis Redding’s tune “Hard to Handle” and “She Talks to Angels” both of which were number ones for the band and the great bluesy ballad “Seeing Things ”.
The current touring band has Sven Pipien on bass, Raj Ojha on drums, Isaiah Mitchell on guitar and Joel Robinow on keyboards. There are two lovely ladies singing backing vocals on the bar stage adding to the harmonies. They are all workin’ it from the first note; sounding fresh and brought it with an eclectic setlist from the hits to jams. All the while Rick does his guitar thing and Chris brings us his dancing antics and a turn on the harmonica. Joel Robinow’s keyboards are hauntingly amazing. A treat for the Crowes diehard fans was “Lay It All On Me” from their 2001 album “Lions”. All the while, the audience never sat down. A great rousing version of “Kicking My Heart Around” had everyone swaying. “Remedy” was high energy with Chris having made a quick change into a Black Crowes tour t-shirt to cool it down. The rain started to pick up again for the encore, which was a cover of the Stones, “It’s Only Rock & Roll”(but I Like It), yep and we liked it so much we hit the car and played some Black Crowes on the drive home.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan