Connect with us


The Black Crowes Bring Their Rock ‘n’ Roll Swagger to Manchester O2 Apollo [Photos]

The Black Crowes bring their rock ‘n’ roll swagger to the O2 Apollo in Manchester and you can check out the photos and review here…



The Black Crowes
The Black Crowes, photo by Frank Ralph Photography

The Black Crowes are back in full flight, returning to the UK for a short run of shows with new music for the first time in a long time.

Happiness Bastards, their first album in 15 years, is a pure slice of rocking Crowes, full of the soul and swagger for which they are renowned, packed with tracks that sound like they could have come from the same sessions as early Shake Your Money Maker-era cuts.

Opening act Jim Jones All Stars are pure rock n’ roll fun and get everyone in the building bouncing. They are a riot of handclaps, saxophone and swagger, with Jim Jones making sure every person in the audience has a good time. They only get 30 minutes, but it feels longer, in a good way – and they prove to be the perfect warm-up for what was about to come from the headliners.

Nowadays, live, The Black Crowes are a less incense-burning, 15-minute solos kind of band, as the new album shows. They can still rip it with the best of them, and the shorter “Saturday night type of album,” as Chris calls it, makes it feel less like a Tuesday in Manchester and more of a weekend in Atlanta. 6 of the new album tracks get aired tonight, with the two opening album tracks, “Bedside Manners” and “Rats and Clowns,” making for great show openers, followed by the incredible “Twice as Hard.”

The Robinson brothers, famed for not getting along, appear in a great place and are in the best form ever. Chris is the peacock, bringing the style and swagger and Rich is the soulful genius that underpins everything.

Sven and Nico on bass and guitar stand to the left with Rich to the right, as Chris conducts matters from the middle in front of a sizeable mirror which forms the centre of a huge stage setup with the backing singers, drummer and keyboard player perched high above the rest of band on top of a small mountain of old monitors – it looks really cool, and the cut out of Chuck Berry adds some extra cool points.

Many die-hard fans bemoan the fact that neither Marc Ford nor Steve Gorman are a part of the band nowadays, but the fact that Nico more than holds his own allows you to forget that and just enjoy the music.

An energetic romp through Jerry Lee Lewis’ “High School Confidential” is dedicated to Jim Jones All Stars and is bags of fun, followed by a sprawling version of “Thorn in My Pride,” extended with the kind of cut-loose soloing that lifts you to another plane, sounds glorious. Most of the tracks are short, sharp, soulful shots of the sublime, but they are known as a jam band, so this stands out as a centrepiece in the set.

Another cover for which they are famous, “Hard to Handle,” marks the run-in of songs that would turn any songwriter green with envy. Rich reaches for the acoustic and strums out the intro to “She Talks to Angels,” which is followed by the final new track “Dirty Cold Sun,” “Sting Me,” “Jealous Again,” and finally, “Remedy.”

There’s no finer set of songs in any band’s arsenal as those and they lift the soul of everyone in attendance. The final track of the night was a raucous run-through of “Shake Your Money Maker,” which is always a fun way to finish the show – but the last time I saw them do it, they had Jimmy Page guesting with them, so it was just the second-best version I’ve ever seen them do.

The Black Crowes are back, and for as long as they can stay on each other’s good sides, which we hope is for a long time, they will keep showing that you can’t beat the feeling of a good old-fashioned rock n’ freakin’ roll show.