Chris Robinson Brotherhood in Omaha, Nebraska on October 10, 2016.
The Oct 9th concert at the Slowdown was my first experience with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. For those unaware, CRB isn’t an average concert experience. Rather than perform a typical barrage of new and familiar tunes, followed by a customary 1-2 hit encore, CRB is a welcome throwback to a 60’s – 70’s style jam band experience. Two longs sets of intricately woven original tunes and covers blended together with jams reminiscent of the Grateful Dead. There was no opening act, unless you count the stagehand bringing out a ceramic owl incense burner. With the owl in place, the smoke from the incense in air, the band casually walked from behind the curtain, gave a quick wave to the crowd, picked up their instruments and fired into ‘Lets Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go’ a Hank Ballard and the Midnighters cover. The band transitioned into ‘Leave My Guitar Alone’ off their latest record and this set the tone for the entire 8 song first set, providing a laid back musical journey including a couple more tunes from the new record along with a couple more covers. They wrapped up the first set with the spiritualesque ‘California Hymn’.
After a 30-35 minute intermission the band returned, going more up-tempo with Frank Motley’s ‘Try Rock & Roll’. With the renewed energy in the room, and maintaining the swinging vibe, the band launched into ‘New Cannonball Rag’ with many singing along throughout the audience. This was followed by ‘Tornado’ a surprising Black Crowes cover, at least for myself, as it is no secret Chris Robinson has distanced himself from his days fronting the Crowes. This slower bluesy vibe was maintained as the band played Leon Russell’s ‘Alcatraz’ and ‘Star and Stone’ from Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s debut LP. Neil Casel’s haunting guitar licks had a little more atmospheric quality during the 2nd set, especially during ‘Ain’t It Hard But Fair’. They closed out the 2nd set with a jamming version of “Rosalee’, and returned for an encore performance of New Riders of the Purple Sage’s ‘Last Lonely Eagle’.
Musicianship was top notch, but never indulgent. The jams heavily featured Adam MacDougall on keyboards and Neil Casel on lead guitar, with a solid foundation provided by Jeff Hill on bass, Tony Leone on drums, and Chris on rhythm guitar. Everything centered around maintaining an aura of sound you swayed along with in the crowd. They certainly provide a counter culture hippie vibe, and I’m not just talking about their abundant facial hair. For a little over 2 ½ hours downtown Omaha was transported to nostalgic southern California. Chris Robinson Brotherhood is a must experience for jam band fans.
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Photos courtesy of Chris Tierney Photography in Omaha, Nebraska. ©2016.
Review by Vince Andreasen.
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