Hometown favorites The Black Crowes returned to Atlanta on Sunday night for their second go-around on their 30th anniversary Shake Your Money Maker Tour, this time with fellow Georgians Drivin’ N Cryin’ in support. Built in 2008, the 12,000 capacity Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in the northern Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta played host to this Father’s Day affair in what ended up being an unexpectedly tolerable and breezy summer evening in the South.
While I have lived in the Atlanta area twice for a combined 15 years, I am embarrassed to say that I have never seen Drivin’ N Cryin’ live. In fact, I also haven’t seen The Black Crowes perform since they toured through Roanoke, Virginia, back in 1991 in support of ZZ Top on their Recycler Tour. Needless to say, Sunday night’s concert was somewhat a rite of passage, especially for my 17-year-old son who was actually born in Atlanta and enjoys both of these bands.
It was a good thing that I sent my son into the venue a bit early, as Drivin’ N Cryin’ surprisingly ended up taking the stage approximately 10 minutes earlier than was expected. Donning an all-black Atlanta Braves baseball cap, lead singer and guitarist Kevn Kinney took the mic and kicked off the evening in Alpharetta. The facility acoustics never disappoint, and the musicianship of Kinney, Tim Nielsen (bass), Laur Joamets (guitar) and Dave V Johnson (drums) was on full display as they played through an enjoyable 45-minute set that bridged the band’s 30-year-plus catalog, including one of my favorites, “Honeysuckle Blue.” However, there was some fan disappointment expressed that Drivin’ N Cryin’ avoided performing “Straight to Hell” and “Fly Me Courageous” as part of their Sunday setlist. Perhaps they were just holding those back for when they play the revamped Georgia Jam festival on August 27 in Duluth, Georgia?
1.) The Little Record Store Just Around the Corner
2.) Scarred but Smarter
3.) Another Scarlet Butterfly
4.) Keys to Me
6.) Build a Fire
7.) Can’t Promise You the World
8.) Never the Twain Shall Meet (Kevn Kinney song)
9.) Let’s Go Dancing
10.) Underground Umbrella
11.) Honeysuckle Blue
Following the full reveal of The Black Crowes’ neighborhood bar-like set, the band took the stage at approximately 9:00pm and launched into the first track from their 1990 Shake Your Money Maker album, “Twice as Hard.” The hometown crowd energy was at a fevered pitch by this point, with fans screaming at the top of their lungs in excitement as lead singer Chris Robinson appeared on stage with his Crowes-branded umbrella. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Shake Your Money Maker, the band has continued performing all the album tracks in order, which included the familiar hits of “Jealous Again,” “Hard to Handle,” and “She Talks to Angels.”
While The Black Crowes generally have been mixing up the “second half” of their set each night of the tour (everything following the first ten Shake Your Money Maker tracks), what I was most interested in Sunday night was if the band had anything special planned for its Georgia fans. The local themes had been mixed in throughout the night, with Robinson reflecting that Otis Redding (who wrote “Hard to Handle”) was from “just down the road in Macon, Georgia,” to introducing his brother Rich as “born on May 24, 1969, at Piedmont Hospital” (which is literally 20 miles down the road from this venue). Following a resounding rendition of “Remedy” from their 1992 album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion to end the main setlist, the lights went dark and there was a curious buzz in the air in anticipation of what might be in store for the encore.
Chris Robinson then led the band back on stage, now wearing a Club 688 Atlanta t-shirt. This was a huge nod to a former (now defunct) downtown Atlanta music club in the 1980s where The Black Crowes cut their teeth as Mr. Crowe’s Garden. He then proceeded to announce that Kinney would be returning to the stage to join him on vocals, along with local guitar icons Rick Richards from The Georgia Satellites and Charlie Starr from Blackberry Smoke. With Kinney, Richards and Starr in support, The Black Crowes put an astonishing exclamation point on the night with an energetic, guitar-driven performance of “Rock & Roll” by The Velvet Underground (video below).
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.) My Morning Song
12.) Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye
13.) Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone (The Undisputed Truth cover)
14.) Wiser Time
15.) Thorn in My Pride
17.) Rock & Roll (The Velvet Underground cover)
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