The evening began with a last minute decision to move the the gig from the Palace foreshore into the Palais theatre. Probably due to Melbourne’s laissez faire attitude towards adhering to weather forecasts. A decision that I enthusiastically applauded and was most pleased with.
I arrived at 6:15pm as the doors were about to open and a long line had already snaked its way around the front of the venue. This crowd had waited a long time for the much overdue reunion of The Black Crowes.
Taking the stage promptly at 6:45pm was Full Flower Moon Band, a five-piece outfit hailing from sunny Brisbane. Comprising of Babyshakes Dillon (Vocals & Guitar), Christian Driscoll (Guitar), Caleb Widener (Guitar), Marli Smales (Bass & Backing Vocals) and Luke Hanson (Drums)
Right out of the gate their drummer was like hearing a bomb go off. Every hit of the skins had intentionality and ferocity yet he had a good understanding of utilising dynamics when the song required a softer touch. The bass held a consistent groove that you felt in your stomach and the three guitars made up of an SG, a Telecaster and a Stratocaster formed an unholy trio of tone. Together they weaved a rugged and lipstick stained tapestry of rhythm and melody. Crushing riffs juxtaposed with haunting vocals. Babyshakes Dillon’s vocals reminded me of Shirley Manson of Garbage. She had a swagger and filth in her delivery that said not only can I throw down with the boys but I can beat you.
My favourite song that they performed was, Come and be my baby. Ironically it is the only song from their set that isn’t available online at the moment. All in all Full Flower Moon Band are a great example that the future of Aussie rock is not just alive but absolutely thriving. You just have to look and listen a little closer.
Filling the main support spot was Australian icons You Am I fronted by eccentric frontman Tim Rogers. Dressed lavishly in his trademark look of bellbottoms and a red shirt Tim oozed vintage chic as they took the stage to a hearty applause. Opening the set with Rumble they were off and running after a few small sound issues which didn’t seem to slow them down. The Waterboy, Who Put The Devil in You? and Cathy’s Clown all made an appearance keeping the fans happy.
Tim was up and about with his cheeky banter keeping the punters entertained as Mr Milk and How Much is Enough rang out. While I don’t believe it was their strongest performance there was plenty of crowd support as they finished off with their huge hit Berlin Chair. Tim ever supportive of the local music industry inviting people to go out and sample some of the live music scene and support our musicians. So get to it people, there is so much live music to see in Melbourne you will be glad you did!
James Brown’s Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine played over the PA as we starred into the darkness as silhouettes moved across the stage and you could feel the anticipation in the atmosphere change. Then a single light illuminated Rich Robinson and his guitar as he began playing the intro to Twice as hard and the crowd simultaneously exploded with rock and roll as frontman. Chris Robinson’s entrance was greeted with deafening screams. Chris was dressed in a gold sparkle shirt and shiny silver shoes. But even an outfit this loud was barely able to contain the infectious energy he exuded.
The Black Crowes didn’t give a performance you’d expect of seasoned veterans, but they played with the vigour of a new band hungry to prove themselves. As I watched from the balcony I couldn’t see a single person that wasn’t on their feet, despite the Palais being a seated venue. The third song of the night was Sister Luck. You could feel the nostalgia in the air and for a brief moment all of us were transported back to 1990. Such is the magic of good music. Seeing Things showcased the band’s soul and gospel influences as Chris Robinson didn’t merely sing the lyrics but managed to engage the crowd in an unspoken dialogue. Following this was their cover of Otis Redding’s Hard to handle. The crowd exploded once more to an even higher level that literally made the floor and walls of the Palais theatre shake. As the chorus came around The Black Crowes didn’t have two back up singers in the band but a couple thousand new ones.
In the middle of performing Stare it Cold, an over enthusiastic fan climbed up on stage and charged towards the band. Two members of security rushed over to apprehend him but he grabbed one of them and threw him into the audience. The second security personnel managed to grab a hold of him while Chris Robinson pushed him away with his mic stand. As security struggled to subdue him Rich Robinson didn’t miss a beat and ran over to strike the misfit with the butt of his guitar. As the assailant was brought under control Rich grabbed the mic and yelled: “Get this mother fucker out of here.” Which was met with applause and approval from the fans. Chris then took the mic and decided to restart the song. Nonchalantly brushing off the incident and getting right back to the music.
The guitar nerd in me noticed that both Rich Robinson and lead guitarist Isaiah Mitchell were using three amplifiers each. An educated guess leads me to believe that this was to have their guitar signal panned in stereo and have one signal straight down the middle. Keyboard player Joel Robinow had a vintage Leslie speaker in his setup, something I’ve never seen a band do in a live setting. These little details show a lot about who The Black Crowes are as artists and how much care and attention they place on their sound. Something often overlooked in our modern digital age where such analog efforts are deemed too costly and unnecessary.
The set was closed with the fan favourite, Remedy. The crowd gave all they had and sang at the top of their lungs and the band graced them with a breath taking performance. At the end the lights went down but the crowd could not be quelled and for their passion they were rewarded with an encore of Rock & Roll by The Velvet Underground.
This was a a night of passion, joy and drama. Much like the things that make up life and to me the very essence of what Rock and Roll is all about. The Black Crowes embody this and show us that they are just as important and relevant today as they were when they debuted Shake Your Money Maker in 1990.