TVD Live Shots: The Black Crowes at the O2 Brixton Academy, 9/26

The Black Crowes are on another level at the moment. They’re the best rock ‘n’ roll band on tour right now—my generation’s Led Zeppelin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band that makes it look so easy; it’s as if the only reason they are here on the planet to remind us what good old-school rock ‘n’ roll is and can be. (Yeah, I get it, that’s a heap of praise to throw at a band in the first paragraph of a gig review, but you had to see it to believe it.) People were in fucking awe. In the words of Liam Gallagher, “it was biblical.”

There’s something to be said about the company they keep as well. There was an all-star list of London rock ‘n’ rollers in attendance. Spike from the Quireboys and the man who invented heavy metal, Tony Iommi, were just a few that I saw on night one. The show had been postponed several times, but unlike many others, it didn’t affect the anticipation or turnout. Was it sold out? There was one seat open, and I grabbed it, so yeah, essentially, it was.

I watched two brothers with a very public turbulent past jamming together in perfect harmony. Hell, they even smiled at each other more than once. This is the power of music, the power of great fucking songs, the power of connection with the audience, personified and amplified. You could feel this show in your heart; it warmed you up.

I’ve always been a fan of the Crowes, but I lost touch after By Your Side. They started to drift into a sort of jam-band space that I wasn’t really into. But that doesn’t change the fact that their debut masterpiece, Shake Your Money Maker, is still one of my favourite records of all time.

I would argue that The Southern Harmony and Musician Companion is the superior record, only because it took everything I loved from the debut and turned it up to eleven, but hearing “Twice as Hard” as the opening song brought me back to the glory days of MTV and the first time I heard this band. Fucking hell, I forgot how brilliant that song is as an opener. I was transported automatically back to 1992 when Riki Rachtman first said, “I’ve got a new band for you that I think you are going to like,” and the rest is history.

Shake Your Money Maker was played in its entirety, and it was brilliant. The depth of that album cannot be understated. Sure we all know the hits, but when’s the last time you listened to that one straight through? This could be Def Leppard ‘s Hysteria of southern/classic rock where every song could have been a single.

When the album was done, the Crowes dove head first into “No Speak No Slave,” which begged the question, when do we get this album in its entirety? Hopefully, that will come next year. “Wiser Time,” “Remedy,” and “Sting Me” closed out the set, and while I could ask for more, the Crowes absolutely over-delivered and I didn’t want to be greedy. I should have just gone to night two.

It may be cliched to play an album in its entirety these days, but that’s only because so many bands are playing albums that don’t need to be played. Shake Your Money Maker is not only an exception but the reason that this anniversary tour works. It’s not just the numerous hit singles; it’s the flow, the story—the last of a dying breed of bands that made epic fucking albums.

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