The Black Crowes announced their Shake Your Money Maker 30th anniversary tour in November 2019. On Tuesday night, nearly two years later, the trek finally got underway at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater.
While the big news around the tour is the reunion of perpetually squabbling siblings Chris Robinson and Rich Robinson, it’s billed as a celebration of the Black Crowes’ 1990 debut Shake Your Money Maker, plus “all the hits.” The band played the album in full and in sequence, opening the show with a blistering “Twice as Hard.”
As a Wurlitzer jukebox wheeled onstage blared Elmore James’ 1961 recording of “Shake Your Money Maker,” the band’s revamped lineup took their places: Crowes alumnus Sven Pipien on bass joined new faces Isaiah Mitchell on lead guitar, Brian Griffin on drums, and Joel Robinow on keys, along with two harmony singers. Chris Robinson, in an all-white suit, hid beneath a Crowes logo umbrella until guitarist Rich Robinson, juxtaposed in all black, struck the first chords of “Twice as Hard” and the lights came up.
At 54, the frontman doesn’t seem to have missed a figurative or literal step during the tour’s pandemic delay. He offered a Mummers strut with the parasol, twirled his mic stand, and indulged in more than a few Jagger-like chicken moves, bobbing his head with a hand resting lightly on his hip. His voice was soulful and bell-clear. Rich, meanwhile, was all business, simultaneously frowning and powering the band forward with his rhythm playing, leaving Mitchell — a wonder throughout the night — to deliver slide-guitar leads and solos. (There were a few glimpses of brotherly love between the Robinsons; Rich broke into a wide smile at one of his brother’s onstage gags.)
The Black Crowes followed their Shake Your Money Maker set with 10 more songs from throughout their career, including “No Speak No Slave” off 1992’s Southern Harmony and Musical Companion; “Wiser Times” from 1995’s Amorica; and “Soul Singing” from 2001’s Lions. They returned to The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion for the encore: a typically soulful and hyper-charged take on “Remedy.”
The Nashville tour kickoff is the first gig for the Robinsons since they staged the acoustic mini-tour Brothers of a Feather in March 2020, a club run that was filmed for an accompanying concert film. The Black Crowes return to Ascend Amphitheater on Wednesday night for a second show, before heading to the Northeast for stops this weekend in New Hampshire and Connecticut.
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