Over the years, the band has treated fans to some of the best live performances in rock 'n' roll, but at the Ram’s Head last Tuesday night, the notes hit flat and sour.
To begin, the venue itself leaves much to be desired, especially as compared to the 9:30 Club. The sound is only decent when standing in the small floor area and muffled elsewhere. The view is hindered by several wide pillars downstairs and blocked from the upper balconies unless you’re right up against the railing.
And missing from the stage last week were the usual Crowes accoutrements that set the mood -- an ethereal backdrop, candles and incense. The most significant missing pieces, though, were the absence of guitarist Marc Ford and keyboardist Eddie Hawrysch. Both left the band at the end of the summer for “personal” and “health” issues. A representative for Ford said, "All the difficult work [Ford] has done to gain his longest period of sobriety ever was in jeopardy while touring."
While the band auditions prospective replacements, Paul Stacey is filling in on guitar and Rob Clores is on keyboards.
During the first of two sets, the usually chatty and energetic Chris Robinson looked road-weary and uninspired. Brother Rich Robinson stepped up to the mic at one point and said, “You know, I usually leave the talking to Chris, but Chris was singing a heartfelt song and there are people trying to get him to pose for pictures and flashing their camera phones and its distracting. We’re musicians. If you could just put away your f*ing camera phones and let us play.”
And Chris looked at Rich and added with sarcasm, “You mean it's possible that one person's actions could ruin the enjoyment of another person?”
Drummer Steve Gorman chimed in, ”You know, love really hurts,” attempting to lighten the mood. And the crowd laughed and cheered.
One has to wonder: why doesn’t the band simply ban the use of cameras, rather than berate their fans?
Rich Robinson had his moments though, especially in his delivery of the sad and twangy “Corrina, Corrina” and “My Heart’s Killing Me.”
And there were other bright spots including an impressive jam with Chris on harmonica, a lively rendition of “By Your Side,” and an encore featuring a harmonious, acoustic version of “Lay It All On Me.”
The band plans on returning to the studio after their fall tour and expects to release an album of new and original material sometime in 2007. They have not yet decided if they will release the record independently or through a major label.