Originally a 13 Oct 2020 show twice re-scheduled finally arrived at London’s Brixton Academy. We finally get to celebrate the 30th birthday of their wonderful debut album ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ and special guests Reef are also added to the card.
For those not acquainted with the Brixton academy (my oversees followers) it holds 4,921 people and is a Grade II listed building (i.e. they can’t knock it down). Originally a cinema and theatre called
the Astoria in 1929 the building has a semi-domed entrance porch and a slope towards the stage so you are ensured a good view from the stalls and balcony. Equally impressive inside, Europe’s largest fixed stage (based on Venice’s Rialto bridge) with 140ft dome and Art Deco interior make it one of a kind.
Reef have been around since 1993 and are from Glastonbury. The band currently consists of originals Gary Stringer (vocals, looking like an American blue collar steel worker) and Jack Bessant (bass, scruffy but striking Gandalfesque appearance) along with Jesse Wood (guitar), Amy Newton (guitar) and Luke Bullen (drums).
I missed the first few songs due to still being in the pub – oh well😊. In fairness I know little about them, I recognised one song ‘Place Your Hands’ which is ok and I’d put them down as just another middling rock band. They did however play a mighty fine version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ which I thoroughly enjoyed and went down a storm with the packed house.
Reef Setlist (Click on the links to see the video’s)
- Shoot Me Your Ace
- Stone for Your Love
- I Would Have Left You
- I’ve Got Something to Say
- Place Your Hands
- Best of Me
- New Bird
- Lucky Number
- The Chain (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- Yer Old
The Black Crowes
The roadies do their stuff and set up a southern style bar, Wurlitzer juke box and a corrugated iron shack bearing their iconic logo at either side of the stage. It’s all very southern Georgia from a bygone era. The strains of Elmore James 1961 hit ‘shake Your Money Maker’ start and the band saunter on stage – straight to the bar for bourbon shots and beer from an impeccably clad bartender. Then Atlanta’s finest move to their stage positions and go straight for the jugular with ‘Twice as Hard’. Wow what a start! Chris Robinson is wearing a gold Lame shirt and striped jacket with Fedora hat – he looks and sounds great. Brandishing an open Black Crowes umbrella he struts his stuff – part Mick Jagger, part Rod Stewart in their 1970’s heyday – which reminds me of the New Orleans funeral scene in the James Bond film ‘Live and Let Die’.
The current band is Chris Robinson (vocals), Rich Robinson (guitar), Sven Pipien (bass) with Brian Griffin (drums), Isaiah Mitchell (guitar) and Erik Deutsch (keyboards) for touring. They are all on song, a very tight but fluid outfit making both the rockier and slower number come alive. They all look like they are having a top time and enjoying themselves in front of a sold out ecstatic audience. Chris is full of wonder and constantly on the move, striking poses like a proper rock star and ace front man. My mate Nick said he’d forgotten the rest of the band was there as he couldn’t take his eyes of Chris and all his stage antics and strutting – in fairness Chris was the enthralling focal point for the whole show. Mind you his brother Rich was not to be totally outdone with his cowboy boots, jeans, velvet jacket and black hat.
Lots of tempo and melody changes keep things moving along nicely. The classics just keep flowing – just check out the setlist – boy their first two albums were so damn good. The slower anthemic ballad ‘Seeing Things’ is wonderful, full of emotion with the rich tones of the Hammond organ. The partisan crowd are just lapping it all up and go into full overdrive for ‘Hard to Handle’ – singing the chorus in unison with Chris pointing his microphone at the crowd. Quite frankly the entire set is a joy to behold there are no low points at all. They played full-throttle for the ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ part with little chitchat between songs
Setlist (Click on the links to see the video’s)
- Twice as Hard*
- Jealous Again*
- Sister Luck*
- Could I’ve Been So Blind*
- Seeing Things*
- Hard to Handle* (Otis Redding cover)
- Thick n’ Thin*
- She Talks to Angels*
- Struttin’ Blues*
- Stare It Cold*
- No Speak No Slave – (The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, 1992)
- Sting Me – (The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, 1992)
- Wiser Time – (Amorica, 1994)
- Thorn in My Pride – (The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, 1992)
- Remedy – (The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, 1992)
- Rocks Off (The Rolling Stones cover)
* Shake Your Money Maker (1990)
Even the bartender ,frilly shirt, white jacket and bow tie, who has undoubtedly seen the show x times, is bopping along and loving it as are the two superfluous backing singers (looking good but you could barely hear them above the band).
‘Thorn in My Pride’ and ‘Remedy’ are things of beauty and the archetypical of the southern rock/blues sound that is The Black Crowes. Chris twirls his mic stand and dances like a dandy. A great finish. Then the encore – just as you thought they couldn’t do any better they do a barnstorming rendition of the Stones classic ‘Rocks Off’ – which if you think about it is the 70’s sound they have cultivated to become their own. The crowd are going bananas, I haven’t seen so many happy faces in one place for a long time. And that’s it folks, the band do a quick bow and off they trundle to on another successful night’s work. The beautiful rootsy blues rock mish-mash of what simply is good ole ‘rock and roll’
It’s been an absolute belter of a night, well worth the wait and ticket price. I also got myself a great psychedelic t-shirt – had too really their cartoon crows logo is just way too iconic!
Marko [30 Sept 2022]