Chris Robinson Brotherhood Grooves Sublimely at Beachland Ballroom

Concert Review

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The stage was all bedecked with psychedelic tapestries and eerie imagery (an owl perched atop the amps stage-right). Even before sunset, the crowd numbered some 300 strong, and would grow to near 450 or so. Healthy, but not too packed. Perfect, in fact.

We all sort of assembled throughout the room, many of us having arrived early, and talked about what former Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson had been up to recently. The air was one of excitement; this was the first of two shows at the Beachland. And by night's end our anticipation had been well rewarded. Most of us agreed that we'd return for a second helping Wednesday night.

When the band took the stage, the crowd just went nuts. Robinson and Co. slipped casually into the jaunty "Jump the Turnstile," and we all began to bob in time with his and lead guitarist Neal Casal's dual six-string work.

There's something about the Chris Robinson Brotherhood's sound that makes it seem like it should be easy to describe: some sort of classic rock throwback with a pinch of that Robinson aesthetic, grizzled beard and all. The sound, evidenced sweetly last night and succinctly on the band's latest album, Phosphorescent Harvest, is the sort of groove-based rock that fits in well with almost any situation (chillin' on the porch, driving around, spending at night at the Beachland, etc.). "Badlands Here We Come" is among the band's finest examples of this hazy notion I'm trying to get at. It's just good music, and if your toes aren't tapping out the beat, then that's more your fault than anything. The Brotherhood's just providing the conduit; your head space is as much the show as the band's presence onstage.

...Anyway. They continued crafting a laid-back atmosphere all night. Keys man Adam MacDougall accented each verse with far-out textures and melodies, while bassist Mark Dutton and drummer George Sluppick held down the low end. Sluppick, in particular, had this way about his beats that made it sound like we were all chugging along some long-forgotten railroad deep in the South. Spanish moss appeared out of nowhere and seemed to hang down low into the audience. Now and then. we all felt a mysterious breeze.

But such is the power of live music. Thank ye gawds, the Brotherhood returns tonight for a second dose.

Cleveland, you know what to do.


Setlist:

Jump the Turnstile
Shore Power
Badlands Here We Come
Roll Old Jeremiah (The Black Crowes cover)
Tulsa Yesterday
Tornado (The Black Crowes cover)
Appaloosa (The Black Crowes cover)
Got Love If You Want It (Slim Harpo cover)

Hello L.A. Bye Bye Birmingham (Delaney Bramlett cover)
Beggar's Moon
About a Stranger
Clear Blue Skies & The Good Doctor
Tough Mama (Bob Dylan cover)
Ride (Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud cover)
Burn Slow
Rosalee

Encore:
Girl I Love You (Eddie Floyd cover)
Soul Deep

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