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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review + Photos + Setlist: The Black Crowes Say a Long Good Night to St. Louis, The Pageant, August 27, 2010

Posted By on Sat, Aug 28, 2010 at 12:23 PM

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A cover of Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright" started the electric portion of the night. The brown-sugar soul felt more like an encore to the acoustic set, both in tone and arrangement: Chris shook a bundle of maracas as the Crowes' two backup singers layered on the gospel-soul. The loose-hipped boogie "Jealous Again" and the black-magic groove "A Conspiracy" followed -- but were only appetizers for the thunderous "Exit," on which Chris' powerful yowl filled the room. And Amorica's "High Head Blues," on which the band's love of Motown was most evident, showcased some sultry funk.

Years of constant touring have made the Crowes' jams and improvisations fluid and intuitive. The epic sprawl "Thorns Progress"/"Thorn In My Pride" came complete with a thoughtful drum solo from Gorman in the middle -- and took on a life of its own as it weaved in roadhouse blues, cathartic soul-bearing and pickled rock. And a cover of the Velvet Underground's "Oh! Sweet Nuthin" near the end of the electric set was just perfect. Chris strapped on a guitar and Rich took lead vocals; the latter's choir-boy-soft delivery had the perfect bittersweet air of finality in tandem with the snarling wall of guitar noise, which became louder and louder as the song unfurled.

Luther Dickinson. More photos here. - TODD OWYOUNG

Both sets had lags in pacing - nothing so egregious that it killed the overall mood, but noticeable enough that they're worth mentioning. The lulls in the electric set in particular were more noticeable, perhaps because the band sounded so powerful when it harnessed and focused its collective energy on songs such as "Exit." (And it's worth noting that anybody not fond of the Crowes' acoustic side or penchant for jams might have been bored by the first part of the night.) But anyone who enjoys seeing live music - and enjoys seeing talented, expert musicians ecstatic at being onstage - would have no complaints about last night.

Critic's Notebook: Kudos to Chris Robinson, who chastised the crowd for talking during the band's acoustic set. (Seriously, the low hum of conversation in the venue was loud.) Before "My Morning Song," he called out the talkers for being selfish, among other things: "It's not just about you, it's about everyone else who shelled out good money to hear music. I hope what you have to talk about is so important." In other words, he verbalized what many concertgoers are often thinking. After the marathon performance of the song - which earned the band a standing ovation - he quipped, "Now, don't you feel better?"

Having no cameras flashing in the audience was strange - but also refreshing. People were dancing, waving their arms around and absorbing themselves in the music.

The Crowes are notorious for having completely random setlists; no song is guaranteed an appearance, not even the band's hits. That was true last night, although the song selection was about as close as to a "favorites" setlist as you get with the band. According to Crowesbase, "Oh Sister" was played for the first time since 1997.

Deep Thoughts: Temple of the Dog's grunge ballad "Say Hello 2 Heaven" ripped off Velvet Underground's "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" pretty much wholesale.

Setlist: Acoustic "Soul Singing" "Downtown Money Waster" "Fork in the River" "Ballad in Urgency" "Wiser Time" "Oh Sister" (Bob Dylan cover) "Good Friday" "What Is Home" "Thunderstorm 6:54 P.M." "My Morning Song" "Sister Luck"

Electric "Feelin' Alright" (Joe Cocker cover) "Jealous Again" "A Conspiracy" "Exit" "Thorns Progress" / "Thorn In My Pride" (drum solo - jam in middle) "A Train Still Makes a Lonely Sound" "High Head Blues" "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" (Velvet Underground cover) "Remedy"

Encore: "Movin' On Down the Line" "Boomer's Story" (Ry Cooder cover)

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