The Black Crowes
With the Buffalo Killers
Wednesday, November 12
The Fillmore Miami Beach
Better Than: Watching Almost Famous and wishing real rock and roll still existed.
Last night’s Black Crowes concert at the Fillmore Miami Beach proved, at the very least, that the Atlanta-based sextet has some serious stamina. After a short introductory set by the Buffalo Killers, whose stellar swampy soul belies their midwestern roots, the headliners took the stage shortly after 9 p.m. They were not to leave it until just after 11:30, amid wall-shaking applause and after a curtain-call-style group bow. It’s been a while since the Crowes played south of Palm Beach County, and it was clear that the band – regardless of mainstream visibility – had been terribly, terribly missed.
One’s appetite for the specific flavor of last night’s set, though, depended on the context in which one discovered and enjoys the band. Those who come at the Black Crowes from the Humble Pie/Stones/Faces framework may have been disappointed by the largely midtempo pace of the music. Those who picked up on the band in their latter-day years of touring with the likes of Government Mule and the String Cheese incident, though, would have been very, very pleased to hear the band kick out the jams. This second camp clearly made up the majority of the audience, who remained rapt, almost ecstatic, for the duration.
And while things started out slow and easy, the quality of the sound, the musicianship, everything was basically top-notch – especially sweet were the stabs of some excellent vintage electric piano and organ. With almost two decades’ worth of material to choose from, the Crowes played a decent helping from Warpaint, but also delved into the back catalog, stretching out and working through older tunes in new, solo-filled ways. To their credit, too, they eschewed playing a couple of their bigger Nineties hits, proving themselves to be a still-vital band with no use for coulda-been nostalgia. Chris Robinson’s voice is still like hot butter on grits, fleshed out even more with the addition of two backup singers. And in the final leg of the set, the band kicked it up with some proper boogies. The hundreds of Crowes fans in attendance were definitely not wrong.
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Personal Bias: I’m more a fan of the band from its Faces-comparison years, and have limited patience for jams. But Chris Robinson will pretty much always be a badass in my book.
Random Detail: In the small section of seats arranged in the club’s balcony, someone hung a Seminole tribe flag over the side.
By the Way: A very rock and roll moment came when some hard-to-see skirmish broke out near the front of the stage, and Robinson jabbed his microphone stand, toreador-style, at the offender until things calmed.