THE BLACK CROWES kicked off their U.S. tour as the support act for AEROSMITH last night (Saturday, September 2) at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Joining singer Chris Robinson and guitarist Rich Robinson in the new BLACK CROWES lineup are returning bassist Sven Pipien, who played with the band live from 1997 up until the band’s hiatus in 2015, along with Brian Griffin on drums, Joel Robinow on keyboards and Isaiah Mitchell on guitar.
THE BLACK CROWES‘ 11-song set consisted mostly of selections from the band’s first two albums, 1990’s “Shake Your Money Maker” and 1992’s “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion”.
The setlist was as follows:
01. Sting Me
02. Kickin’ My Heart Around
03. Twice As Hard
04. Thick N’ Thin
05. By Your Side
06. Soul Singing
07. Hard To Handle (Otis Redding cover)
08. Thorn In My Pride
09. She Talks To Angels
10. Jealous Again
In celebration of the culmination of their 2021-22 reunion tour, THE BLACK CROWES recently released “The Black Crowes: Shake Your Money Maker Live”, an ode to the band reuniting and following an epic two-year anniversary tour with over 100 dates worldwide.
A deluxe reissue of “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion” will arrive on December 1. The set will include previously unreleased studio recordings, rare B-sides and a live performance from 1993 at Houston’s Sam Houston Coliseum.
Last October, Rich was asked by Australia’s The Rockpit if he and Chris gave any consideration to the idea of bringing some of the other members of the classic THE BLACK CROWES lineup for the current tour. Rich said: “No. We have Sven, and Sven‘s been with us for 25 years. I met Sven when I was 14; he was in a rival Atlanta band. And Chris and Steve [Gorman, drums] lived with Sven when Chris first moved out, when he was 18 or whatever. So Sven‘s been in our life for longer than Johnny Colt [bass] was, or even Steve for that matter. But he didn’t join till later… And Sven‘s great.
“Chris and I decided… A family dynamic is difficult enough as it is, and a band becomes a second family,” he explained. “Some dynamics are really good and some dynamics can be really toxic. And with Steve in particular, but also Marc Ford [guitar] going back to his old ways, so to speak… which was the reason why I just put an end to [THE] MAGPIE [SALUTE, Rich‘s project with Marc], because I’m, like, ‘Look, I’m not doing this again,’ with going down that road. And then Steve, with his… He’s always been that way — manipulative and really trying to keep Chris and I apart. One time Steve told me the scariest thing to him was when Chris and I worked together and got along, and his quote was, ‘Because no one can stop you guys from what you wanted to do if you were together.’ And he just flat out said that one day. I’m, like, ‘Wow. That’s really kind of a weird thing to say. Why would you…?’
“We can account for ourselves and how Chris and I deal with each other and deal with our own triggers as brothers, but we can’t account for other people with negative agendas that bring their negativity to us,” Rich added. “And so if we got everyone back, it would be just a money grab and it would be just, like, ‘Let’s do this for one record and go away,’ because it would [inevitably] just fall apart because of everyone with their little petty bullshit.”
Rich added that the decision to bring in mostly new members was influenced in part by his and Chris‘s plans to create fresh BLACK CROWES music, saying: “The reason we didn’t bring anyone back like that was because we want this to be something greater than that. We wanna do this right. I mean, not only do we wanna be in each other’s lives as brothers and we don’t wanna go down that negative road and we don’t wanna fall apart and do all this shit, but we also love playing this music together and we love writing together and we love being in a band together. And we’re good at it. I mean, this is what we do. We’ve been doing this for 32 years, off and on, with each other and with our other bands. So this is something that we really wanted to do. We wanted to do it right and the best way to do that right is to start with a clean slate and get in and start doing it and then hence writing these songs and going in the studio.
“I’ve sent Chris 30 [new] songs to date to work on,” he revealed. “He’s singing amazing. Lyrically and melodically, it’s really cool. And we’re honing all the stuff in. We’re working with [producer] George Drakoulias again. And we’re hoping to go into the studio in February.”
Regarding what the new BLACK CROWES music sounds like, Rich said: “I can’t write specifically for something; I just write. I feel like if I was to try to write something, it would be insincere and I don’t think that it would translate or come across. So I never filter myself and I never push myself in any direction. So I just write music. And whatever moves me is what I go with. And so that’s ultimately what I do. So I’ve got 40 songs to date. We’ve kind of pulled back nine of them that maybe would work in a different scenario, like an acoustic record or whatever it may be. So I just write all the time. Chris writes all the time. This is how we do it. And then at the end of the day, you put all the cards on the table and it’s gonna show itself in what the best record’s gonna be.”
Gorman, who penned 2019’s memoir “Hard To Handle: The Life And Death Of The Black Crowes”, is notably excluded from THE BLACK CROWES‘ current reunion, which launched a lengthy U.S. tour in 2021.
In August 2021, Rich told the Los Angeles Times that he had no reaction to the release of Gorman‘s memoir. “It didn’t really affect me or make me sad,” he said. “No one really takes Steve that seriously. He was our drummer for a long time, and a long time ago, he was our friend. But he was also the one who kind of schemed the most and was more willing to allow a division between me and Chris.”
In a February 2020 interview with Meltdown of Detroit’s WRIF radio station, Gorman said that he was not surprised to see Chris and Rich teaming up with new musicians for a tour. “To me, it’s been an inevitability for years,” Steve said. “I think they both made serious efforts to establish themselves in solo careers that could sustain them, that could provide a living, and I guess that neither one of those really worked out. And so they were always gonna need to be THE BLACK CROWES again. And this tour is an indication of the fact that, to them, they always wereTHE BLACK CROWES. And to me, THE BLACK CROWES was a band. It wasn’t about their band; it was our band. It was six people, or it was five people, or it was four people, depending on the year, but it was always a much greater thing than two brothers who wrote the songs. The success of that band had a lot to do with a lot more than just them, is my point. And the thing that was most special about that band, as I said before, was what six people were able to do when we were on the same page.”
Gorman went on to say that he doesn’t necessarily fault the Robinson brothers for wanting to keep THE BLACK CROWES brand alive.
“This tour has nothing to do with me — it never did; it never would have,” he explained. “THE BLACK CROWES are my past. Now, the music is still around. And if anybody goes to see this tour and decides that they love THE BLACK CROWES now, I think that’s fantastic. I’m all for preserving the legacy of the band I was in. I think this tour has nothing to do with that. I think this tour is the two of them needing money. And to that I say — and that’s fine. I know what it’s like to be concerned about my finances; everybody does. And if you’re in your 50s and you can make a living playing music, then, by God, you should be playing music, if that’s what you wanna do. So, they’re fully within their rights to do it — legally and ethically and morally; whatever. It’s fine. It’s got nothing to do with me. So, live and let live.”
When THE BLACK CROWES announced their split in 2014, Rich issued a statement saying that he loved his brother and respected his talent but that “his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100 percent of his share … is not something I could agree to.”
“Shake Your Money Maker” was re-released in multi-formats sets in February 2021 through UMe/American Recordings. The album, fueled by singles “Jealous Again”, “Twice As Hard”, “She Talks To Angels” and a cover of fellow Georgian Otis Redding‘s “Hard To Handle”, has sold over five million copies.
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