That Saturday, November 5th 2022, was a special day for us. After going through many changes and breakups, The Black Crowes made a return to play in Tokyo after 17 years. To be honest, I never dreamed that such a day would come since I had read many interviews and articles that had disappointed me. I thought they’d never play again. I guess most of their fans were feeling the same. But how lucky I was? Finally, they reunited and came to Tokyo, and I got a chance to photograph them! Life is good.
The Black Crowes are an American blues and Southern rock band originally formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1984. They were signed to Def American Recordings in 1989 and released their first album Shake Your Money Maker in 1990. Through their history, the super talented brothers Chris and Rich Robinson always have been the core members.
Tachikawa Stage Garden is quite a new venue built in 2020 and located in the western part of Tokyo. The venue is very clean and comfortable, and it has capacity for 2,500 people. The Black Crowes were scheduled to play here on Saturday and Sunday the 5th and 6th of November 2022, in Tokyo, Interestingly, Guns N’ Roses were also scheduled to perform at another venue on the same Saturday and Sunday. Japanese rock fans were having trouble deciding which concert they should go. It was a party weekend anyway.
The show started with the support, Riff no Wakusei, which means Riff Planet, a local four-piece band formed in 2016. I am ashamed to say, they were completely new to me. Although they looked slightly nervous, their melodic riffs sounded great. The audience welcomed their fresh and exciting set including The Beatles’ cover “Helter Skelter”. I felt they did a pretty good job of getting the crowd warmed up.
Riff no Wakusei:
Ryo Ogata – Vocals
Yu Otsuki – Guitar
Ryohei Kobayashi – Bass
Reigo Matsumaru – Drums
A photo pass was not granted by Riff no Wakusei, therefore no photo gallery.
4. Helter Skelter (The Beatles cover)
The house lights went out shortly after 6:30 pm, The Black Crowes appeared on stage. The back silhouette of Chris Robinson with hat and mic stand was cool enough to excite the audience. With the Rich’s guitar intro “Twice as Hard”, they kicked off the show in front of a packed crowd. As this show was a part of their reunion tour and the 30th anniversary of their debut album Shake Your Money Maker, they played the entire tracks in order. It was worth the long wait! The whole audience rose from their seat and started dancing.
As a photographer, I was very busy for capturing 8 members including 2 female backing vocals during first 3 song. Every member wore black-based clothing of various designs. Chris put on a blue jacket on it. They looked chic. As always, I needed more time to get best shots of them.
They played many hit songs, such as “Jealous Again”, Otis Redding cover “Hard to Handle” and “She Talks to Angels”. To my surprise, these songs didn’t make me feel nostalgic. Chris’ vocals were dynamic and emotional. He was twirling his mic stand and swaggering around the stage through the show. Rich changed his guitar on every song. His guitar tone was extra rich, and his playing style was steady as ever. It was hard to believe these songs were released over 30 years ago. In the middle of the song “Hard to Handle”, Chris let the Japanese fans sing the chorus part and they perfectly answered. It was amazing and that moment was the most unforgettable part for me.
After they performed 10 songs from Shake Your Money Maker, we wondered what songs they’d play next. All fans knew they change setlist every day. We were treated by 5 songs in total. Three songs from their 1992 album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, such as “Sometimes Salvation”, “Thorn in My Pride” and “Remedy”, 1 song from 2001 album Lions, “Soul Singing”, and my favorite “Wiser Time” from 1994 album Amorica. Everyone was dancing and swaying to the pleasing melody. I still believe “Remedy” is their coolest music video. Nobody can perform like them.
After they closed the main set with “Remedy”, they came back for the encore and played a cover song of Rolling Stones “Rock Off”. This song is the first track of their latest cover EP 1972 which has been released in 2022.
They delivered a stunning 90-minute set. The rock star brothers, Chris and Rich, and their new band members proved that they can still do it even better.
It was awesome to finally see Chris and Rich played together. I was overwhelmed by their energy and impressed exactly what a rock show should be. I hope to see them again soon next year!
The Black Crowes:
Chris Robinson – Lead vocals
Rich Robinson – Guitar/vocals
Sven Pipien – Bass/vocals
Isaiah Mitchell – Guitar/vocals
Erik Deutsch – Keyboards
Brian Griffin – Drums
Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (from Tape, James Brown song)
1. Twice as Hard
2. Jealous Again
3. Sister Luck
4. Could I’ve Been So Blind
5. Seeing Things
6. Hard to Handle (Otis Redding cover)
7. Thick n’ Thin
8. She Talks to Angels
9. Struttin’ Blues
10. Stare It Cold
11. Sometimes Salvation
12. Soul Singing
13. Wiser Time
14. Thorn in My Pride
16. Rocks Off (The Rolling Stones Cover)
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Aki is a published and award-winning concert photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Her musical preferences are deeply rooted in the 70s. However, she also loves to see and capture new bands. You can find her work in magazines, newspapers, online and galleries.