Sunday, April 16, 2006

Chris & Rich Robinson @The Rose Theater, Apr. 14th

Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes announced a few months ago that they would be doing an acoustic tour and they decided to kick off the tour with three consecutive dates in New York City. Wawa went to the first night at Warsaw in Greenpoint and raved about how amazing it was. We already had a pair to the third night at Town Hall in midtown, and he had a single to the second night. On a whim, I checked the Lincoln Center website, and to our amazement, a sweet pair 11th row center was available. So just after midnight on Friday, I suddenly found myself with plans for that evening.

I would not call myself a fan of the Black Crowes. In fact, I can't say that I've ever bought any of their albums -- not even their greatest hits compilation. I do recognize, however, that they have an amazing catalogue of songs and play good, solid rock with excellent 70s influence. Chris Robinson has a wonderful voice and is a charismatic leader. His brother Rich sings well, too, but his talent lies in guitar playing. And Wawa, who follows them to a certain degree, tells me that they change up their setlists for every show, which seems like a rarity nowadays.

Last year, I also caught the Crowes as a full band at Hammerstein. It was a night of great music as well. Being at Hammerstein, however, it presented a very different atmosphere than the Rose Theater. The Hammerstein was general admission standing, and the crowd was full of beer and the air full of pot smoke. The Rose Theater, which is part of Lincoln Center at the newish Time Warner Center, is a beautiful venue, with excellent acoustics, and it seemed intimate and civilized. No weed or booze action there. We were assisted by no less than 3 ushers.

Luckily, our seats were right in front of the sound board, which meant that our positioning for the sound was probably optimal. Since we got there early, Wawa was also able to ask the sound guy for his setlist before the show even started. I think he was pretty psyched for that alone.

The concert was marvelous. The brothers played about 20 songs, joined for about 2/3s by their bassist, Sven. They even played a song by Devendra Banhart. Seeing them opened my eyes -- I didn't realize that Chris played the guitar (and pretty well) and that Rich could sing lead every once in a while. I didn't know most of the songs, but that's why I will go see the Crowes even without being a fan. Their songs are beautiful and rich-sounding, and Chris puts great emotion into his singing. His voice was a little shot on the high soft notes, but otherwise, he really reached the audience, despite sitting in a chair the entire evening. He also provided some funny but not overbearing banter.

It was a great concert to go to, again, thanks to my ticket karma. I now look forward to seeing them on Saturday as well.

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