Upon taking the stage, bandleader Chris Robinson clearly felt at home beginning the final show of his band’s three-night stint at Brooklyn Bowl, inquiring of the venue’s bowler-patrons, “How’s your game tonight?” The casual confidence of this still-young band comprised of veterans was evident in their choice of “Taking Care of Business” as opener.
Heads bobbed to a few tightly delivered bluesy numbers, with keyboardist Adam MacDougall’s trippy pitch-bent Mini-Moog often carrying the melody and helping to define the group’s signature sound. The ensemble’s musical versatility revealed itself in stages, with bassist Mark Dutton laying down a juicy, rolling bassline to start “The Music’s Hot,” which also featured soloing from guitarist Neal Casal reminiscent of Little Feat. The energy reached a new plateau mid-set with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Down In The Flood” as large portions of the crowd began to let loose and dance. Dutton, looking serene and often nearly motionless at far stage-left, was locked in as he consistently delivered basslines that were generally big and deep, dropping heavy notes like anchors dead on the beat. “I’m A Hog For You” was the only tune of the night to feature Robinson on harmonica and left the crowd simmering as it ended the first set.
The second set began with the band providing lyrical mantras celebrating Saturday night and having a good time. The playing throughout was freer and more varied. In its instrumental improvisations, the band modulated between cerebral and spacious textures, often dominated by MacDougall, and energetic rollicking rock-outs, typically led by Casal. More than a few audience members perked up when the Los Angeles-based band busted out their cover of the Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway.” Another highlight was disco-jammer “I Ain’t Hiding,” the second Black Crowes song to appear during the evening. Acoustic instruments appeared for the two-song encore, culminating with a beautiful delivery of Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country”.
Despite having three records to their name, Chris Robinson Brotherhood relied on only three tunes from last year’s Phosphorescent Harvest on this particular night, fleshing out the show with their interpretations of numerous classics. If you want old fashioned psych-blues rock and roll played with authority, CRB are among the best doing it in 2015.
Set 1: Taking Care of Business, Jump the Turnstiles, The Music’s Hot, Oak Apple Day, Down in the Flood, Little Lizzie Mae, Like a Tumbleweed in Eden, I’m A Hog For You
Set 2: Saturday Night in Oak Grove, Louisiana, Ain’t It Hard But Fair, Shore Power, Clear Blue Sky & The Good Doctor, West L.A. Fadeaway, Tough Mama, I Ain’t Hiding, Got Love If You Want It
Encore: Betty & Dupree, Girl From the North Country