There was no doubt that a night filled with music by southern rock icons the Black Crowes and the Drive-By Truckers would deliver. In fact, this tour throughout the early summer has been lighting fires to venues across America. Robert Randolph and the Family Band have also played on most of the dates as the third band on the monstrous bill.
The Drive-By Truckers took to the stage first, playing an unfornately short set. With only about an hour to strut their stuff, they started off with a great “Lookout Mountain.” The wall of sound put forth by the triple attack of wailing guitars thickened with help from fellow Athens, GA. musician John Neff on pedal steel. Neff has sat in with the Truckers a great deal as of late, pretty much touring with them since last fall. He fits in great with the Truckers as they all are such wonderful musicians and have such talented ears for other music.
“Carl Perkin’s Cadillac” from the critically acclaimed The Dirty South gave Nashville the sideways mouth treatment with lyrics of Carl Perkins quick in out of the Music City. The Truckers are certainly not strangers to rebellious and ornery behavior, and had no problems kicking the beehive that is Nashville’s music industry. Then they took a run at their most recent release, A Blessing and a Curse, with great takes on “Easy on Yourself”, “Aftermath USA” and “Gravity’s Gone”. Patterson Hood, with his renegade religion, then took hold of the crowd with great conviction and a monstrous “Sink Hole”. Jason Isbell followed by going at it alone on “Moonlight Mile”. Falling short of perfection (only by the lack of pyrotechnics blowing shit up) the “Let there Be Rock” summed it all up. There was a massive amount of rock on stage, and even more yet to follow.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band held down the second slot on the evening’s bill. As a fan of Robert’s, I usually enjoy the Family Band a great deal. On this night, however, they were less inspired. Being sandwiched between the Truckers and the Black Crowes made them seem insignificant. I would rather have seen a co-bill with the Drive-By Truckers utilizing the extra time. Nonetheless I’m sure the next time I see Robert and crew it will be back to normal, and I’m sure that many others in attendance felt differently. That is the great part about the triple bill; everyone got what was needed from the evening.
The Black Crowes can lay it down. As long as they continue to defy the odds and deliver monstrous rock and roll shows, Chris Robinson can strut around as much as he wants. Only a little over a year after deciding to reunite, the Black Crowes are delivering one of the best shows in rock and roll. From the opening notes of “Only Halfway to Everywhere” the band was completely on fire. The monstrous guitar work of Marc Ford continues to be the overdrive for the band. Chris Robinson’s showmanship is so over the top and utterly perfect that he completely sells the package. They are the real deal.
Their take on The Beatles “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” definitely made the highlight reel despite the sing-along efforts of thousands. Rich Robinson sang vocals and played the 12-string guitar on the cover tune, while brother Chris took a back seat with his acoustic guitar. They followed with a great “Soul Singing” that really popped with great vocals and revved things back up after the slower Beatles cover. Marc Ford stepped to the mic next on “LA”, with Rich playing lap steel and Chris on the electric guitar.
Things really heated up when old friend and ex-Black Crowe guitarist Audley Freed joined the band. Much like the triple guitar attack of the Drive-By Truckers; Rich Robinson, Marc Ford and Audley took turns screaming out guitar solos. They ran thru some of the Black Crowes’ greatest hits cannon, starting with the anthem “Hard to Handle”. Then they tore apart “Shake Your Money Maker,” complete with rants by Chris Robinson and ample amounts of blistering guitar work. With Audley Freed still in tow they nailed a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song “Oh Well”.
All in all this is certainly a bang-for-the-buck rock and roll show, and probably one of the more exciting tours of the summer.