A week after I saw the Crowes at the Nokia/Best Buy Theater in NYC, it was time to head south and see my third and final show of the tour at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. Like last week, I had an exam Friday morning and once that was over my mind was shut off from everything related to school. I took a 7:30PM train that arrived at Union Station in the nation's capital at 9:00PM. I have family that lives just outside of D.C, so my uncle picked me up and we made the 20 minute drive back to his house where I stayed the night. If you have read my concert review blogs in the past (all three of you), you may remember that I made this same trip two years ago (almost to the day, actually) to see the Crowes at the same venue, and at that show met a girl who was about my age and had very similar taste in music. We stayed in touch ever since and Saturday morning we met up for the first time since that show back in '08. After spending two hours around town with her (only reason she wasn't coming to the Crowes show was because she was going to see Bob Dylan instead. That will come into play later), I made my way back to my aunt and uncle's house where I spent time with them and their kids and ate a nice home-cooked meal. I was in no rush to get to this show after last weekend's festivities and my uncle was coming with me to this one (he didn't in '08), so we took our time and made it to the venue at about 6:45PM. Despite being pretty far back in line, we still managed to grab a spot about 6-7 rows of people back on Rich's side. The 9:30 Club had a late show after the Crowes so I figured they would go on at 8PM sharp and sure enough, 7:50 incense was out, lights out at 7:59...
- ACOUSTIC SET - (On: 8:00)
REMEDY- Rich's tech was checking a guitar that was capoed at the 3rd fret before the band came on so my initial guess was a Nonfiction opener, but as soon as the band walked out and Rich started noodling around before they started it hit me that Remedy was up first. This was the first time I had heard the acoustic version of this song live in person, and it was really, really cool. Adam was rockin' the clavinet through a wah for that extra funk, as he did on Croweology.
UNDER A MOUNTAIN- Rich was handed a 12-string and didn't really play anything before they started the next song so for a minute I was clueless as to what was next. The band then looked towards Adam and it hit me. That unmistakable whirl from the keyboards kicked off Under A Mountain, my favorite song on Three Snakes and One Charm. I loved every second of this classic Crowes song.
WHOA MULE- This time Rich was given a 12-string that I noticed was in open E and since Steve was handed a djembe, I knew Whoa Mule had to be next. This song gets a lot of crap, but I really like it. Nothing outstanding, but it's a cool little tune that fits in with the acoustic sets very well.
TONIGHT I'LL BE STAYING HERE WITH YOU- Since Bob Dylan was playing across town at George Washington University, it was pretty obvious that we'd be getting a Dylan cover at this show. I saw the Crowes play this one last week in NYC and they certainly do Dylan's original justice, so it was a welcome addition to this show as well. Chris made a comment along the lines of "I wonder if Bob Dylan was playing that song across town at the same time we were playing it? I'll bet you he wasn't. That's Black Crowes- 1, Bob Dylan- 0."
BALLAD IN URGENCY- As I have said in probably every review I have written, this song is always a standout when I see it live. Tonight was no exception.
WISER TIME- Once again, the first half of this song is great. It's still a treat to hear Chris and Rich harmonize the verses (by the way, if I choose to sing along to this song either at shows or just listening to it elsewhere, I'll usually go with Rich's higher harmonies then Chris' main vocal line ), but the solo section still bores me to tears. Except for Sven. Rich's solo didn't pick up the pace until he grabbed the slide.
WHAT IS HOME- Maybe it was the fact that I was closer to the stage at this show then I was when I saw this song last Saturday and wasn't impressed, but I enjoyed it this time.
OH JOSEPHINE- As usual, the outro alone makes this song a welcome addition to a live show. The band nailed it.
COLD BOY SMILE- I was really, really hoping to hear this at one of my three shows this year, so once Rich was handed a guitar with a capo at the 5th fret I freaked. This is one of the best song they've written since returning in '05, and it suits this lineup SO well. Stellar version tonight.
SHE TALKS TO ANGELS- Boooo.
MY MORNING SONG- This was the first time I had heard My Morning Song played acoustic in person, and while it did not have the punch that the electric versions have...it's still freaking My Morning Song. Like I've said, I still greatly prefer the sunrise section ("if music got to free your mind") on Southern Harmony over the Croweology gospel arrangement of the same section but whatever, I enjoyed what I was given. (Off: 9:31PM)
- ELECTRIC SET - (On: 9:42PM)
FEELIN' ALRIGHT- I had not been down front at a Crowes show in quite a while, and this second set opener (which I had a feeling was coming) reminded me why I love being so close to the stage. They blew the doors off the 9:30 Club with this song. This was loud, glorious rock and roll right here. First time I had seen them play this song and I loved it. Rich was sporting a metal-front Zemaitis.
BLACKBERRY- A few weeks ago in Boston, the Crowes followed up a second set Feelin' Alright opener with Blackberry, and when Rich was handed his white SG in standard tuning that was my guess for what was next. This is the weakest song on Three Snakes in my opinion, but hey, it was rockin' live. They jammed out the middle section which was a nice little treat.
I AIN'T HIDING- The trend on this tour has been that whenever Blackberry has been played, I Ain't Hiding is right around the corner. Rich stayed on his SG for this song (don't think I've ever personally witnessed him play two songs in a row on one guitar) and absolutely ripped it to shreds. I don't like I Ain't Hiding, but Rich and Rich alone makes it tolerable.
FEATHERS- After Hiding ended, Rich stuck with the SG again (three in a row? That's gotta be a record...) and my mind was screaming "PLEASE NOT OZONE MAMA. ANYTHING BUT THAT", Ozone Mama has followed the Blackberry/Hiding combo a few times on this tour. I could not have been more wrong. Now Feathers might not be as much of a rarity as say, Exit or Title Song, but that doesn't diminish the fact that it is a dark, almost spooky piece of music that is hypnotic live. When Steve started that intro drum beat I specifically remember yelling "holy shit!" and looking around to see if anyone else knew what was going on. Most didn't. That didn't matter because I was in my own little world thoroughly enjoying this unknown classic. Interestingly enough, the Crowes also played Feathers at the show I attended at the same venue two years ago.
DOWNTOWN MONEY WASTER- On Amorica this song is decent but nothing special. Live it's a whole different monster. They hit such a groove with this when they play it live that I have no idea why they didn't record it that way to begin with. After the main outro jam, Rich's tech walked up to hand him his Telecaster with a capo at the fourth fret (obviously for Thorn In My Pride), but Rich paid no attention to him, looked over to Luther and started playing another riff completely on the fly. The band caught on and they kept jamming. At one point, Rich then got everyone's attention and said "now go to C!" and synchronized with a nod of Rich's head and guitar, the band switched gears perfectly. Shortly thereafter, Rich shouted "back to G!" and once again, the band returned to Rich's main riff in G. It was amazing to watch Rich Robinson, the guitarist who I've learned so much from over the years, lead the band through a jam like that.
THORN IN MY PRIDE- I thought I was going to avoid the infamous Thorn drum solo on this tour, but sure enough I was wrong. Joe Magistro and Steve coordinated some rhythms before Steve took the spotlight by himself. When the band came back in with the usual harmonica break, instead of going in the familiar post-drum solo jam from Thorn's of yesteryear, Rich led everyone through a slow, swampy Midnight Rambler-esque blues jam. Chris was a man possessed. Rich was the most animated I have ever seen him on stage. I'm telling you he was hitting his strings so hard it looked like he was going to rip right through them.
FEARLESS- Rich was handed his Danelectro 12-string, so my mind began scanning the songs it could be used for. It couldn't be Under A Mountain, since that had already been played in the first set so that meant it had to be...Fearless! Seeing this last week was a complete surprise. Seeing it again this week was even more of a surprise. I love this song and am so glad they brought it back for this tour. They definitely do it justice, though I don't think Rich has ever gotten the lyrics to the chorus in the correct order.
(ONLY) HALFWAY TO EVERYWHERE- What can I say? This song absolutely smokes live. I was a little nervous because late set Halfways are usually the short version sans-jam, but when Steve and Sven started up the rhythm for the jam I went nuts. I knew this was the last song of the set, so I just threw away the fact that I'm normally a pretty reserved guy and just lost myself in the music for this entire song. I could not have asked for a better way to end the main set of my final Crowes show of the year. (Off: 11:02PM)
- ENCORE - (On: 11:03PM)
A TRAIN STILL MAKES A LONELY SOUND- This was an unexpected first encore but I really liked it. Classic Rich Robinson open G rhythm guitar here. Nothing too extraordinary, but a solid song.
BOOMER'S STORY- So here it was, the last song I would see at a Black Crowes concert in who knows how long. Rich motioned to his tech that he wanted to keep the same guitar (white SG) he used for "A Train..." for the next song, which could have been because they were running short on time (the 9:30 Club had a late show for which doors opened at 11:30PM). Though the Crowes have used it many times as a show closer in the past, Boomer's Story might not be one's ideal encore song. I, for one, love it and thought it was a fitting end to an amazing five years spent following this band's every move to the best of my ability:
Traveled all over the country
I traveled everywhere
I been on every Branch Line railroad
And I never paid a nickel fare
I been from Maine to Califor'ny
And from Canada to Mexico
I never tried to save no money
And now I got no place to go, boy
Now I got no place to go
Listen to a Boomer's story
Pay attention to what I say
Well, I hear another train a-comin'
Guess I'll be on my way
If you want to do me a favor
When I lay me down and die
Just dig my grave beside the railroad
So I can hear the trains go by, boys
So I can hear the trains go by
Hear the train go by
I can hear the train go by
Just bury my bones beside the railroad
So I can hear the train go by
It was sad and beautiful all at the same time. There I was after five years of so much time, money, and effort spent to see this band, watching my musical idols end my last show with what almost seemed like a personalized goodbye. (Off: 11:15PM)
I watched the band walk offstage then turned to leave and catch up with my uncle (during set break he had went to the bathroom and didn't feel like pushing through everyone to get back to our spot so he just hung out by the back). We walked back to the car and headed home, where I grabbed a much needed drink and went straight to sleep. This morning I spent some more quality time with the family before catching my 2:30PM train back to campus, where I finished a math lab, followed tonight's Crowes setlist and wrote up my thoughts about the second Nokia Theater show. Now here I am finishing my third and final review of the year, and I can do nothing but thank the band for everything they've given me in the past five years. Great music, great experiences, great memories, and great people. My last show was a very good one. I enjoyed myself to the best of my abilities and was happy with the setlist and performance. Hopefully this hiatus won't last long.
A note about the crowd in my area- what a bunch of assholes. When I first got to my spot, I had plenty of breathing room. Before the band went on some dude who was probably about 6'3" and his significant other walked over and started pointing down towards the rail in front of Chris Robinson. I figured they would try and make their way to the front but get stuck right in front of me. I was right. At some point during the first set, his girl left the floor for a few minutes and returned with two older women (who looked like twins). I could see clear over both
of their heads, but that was still more people trying to squeeze into a
small area on the floor. Then a few songs into the first set, three guys came waltzing in like they owned the place and set up camp right in front of me as well. One of them threw their sweatshirt onto their shoulder and hit me in the face in the process. I said something to myself but loud enough that he could hear it and he must have thought it was funny because he did it three more times. I'd also like to point out that this was the same guy that engaged in a bro-hug with his bros during Oh Josephine. Bro. The next asshole came in the form of an older guy with his hair slicked back, carrying around a wad of $100 bills who walked up next to me during set break. At some point during the Thorn jam (if I remember correctly), this dude leaned over to his significant other and said (and I quote) "if this motherfucker touches you again you let me know." Hearing that I turned around and said "who, me? First of all, I never touched her. Second, I'm facing the opposite direction so how could I have intentionally touched her?" He responded with "just turn around," so I shut up and then made it my duty to knock into his girl as much as I could for the rest of the night The last idiot of the night came sometime towards the end of the second set in the form of a guy who felt it was necessary to shake his open water bottle in time with the music. Thanks for the shower, man.