Black Crowes Shake their Moneymakers at SPAC

The Black Crowes, led by founding brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, played the first of three shows in New York State amid their ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ 30th anniversary tour, at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) on Tuesday, September 14

black crowes SPAC

Back in November 2019, the pair appeared on The Howard Stern Show to deliver incredible news: “We’re announcing that the Black Crowes are together and that we’re going on tour next summer.” That was planned for 2020, with a tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their quintuple platinum debut album Shake Your Money Maker and will feature the band playing the entirety of the record every single night. Chris Robinson reflected humbly on the upcoming experience:

The real reward is knowing our music has played a vital role in many people’s lives as well as getting to see their albums on shelves alongside some of the other greats. “I always thought, ‘I’m in the same record store as Thelonious Monk? … Like, what? How did that ever happen?’

Chris Robinson

The brothers were special guests and closed a set at the Beacon Theater for the Love Rocks NYC Benefit on March 12, 2020. Just three songs were all that was played before the full 30th anniversary tour was postponed. This marked the Black Crowes last Empire State show before heading up the Hudson River to Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) on Tuesday, September 14 to keep their rock and roll promise. 

Supporting the tour has been the band “Dirty Honey,” featuring Niskayuna native Marc LaBelle on lead vocals, with the group playing material from their new LP, including the single “The Wire.” They immediately got the crowd’s attention with a rock like vibe reminiscent of the Crowes infamous tour with Jimmy Page in 2000. Marc Lebelle’s hometown crowd led to him reflecting on his first show at SPAC as a fan, for an Aerosmith performance in 1990. To help come full circle, the band covered “Last Child” as an homage to Boston rock legends.

Prior to the Crowes start the stage was set like a western saloon with a full bar on site. Lead singer Chris Robinson came out head to toe, dressed with an umbrella in hand.

black crowes SPAC

The Elmore James composition “Shake your Money Maker” opened the show appropriately for the album and tour it is named after. The Crowes had the same approach in the 1990s to the blues hero’s sound, much like The Rolling Stones did in the 1960s. However, the Robinson brothers from Georgia hit home a little bit closer to the mud like Gregg and Duane Allman. With a jukebox behind them onstage, they played the 1990 LP in full for the Saratoga Springs crowd. All 10 tracks hit the crowd with full indulgence, making those at home realize they were jealous again.

Fans who remembered seeing the The Black Crowes with Levon Helm In Central Park in September 2009 were hoping for songs off “Before the Frost…Until the Freeze,” recorded at Levon’s Barn in Woodstock. Instead the Crowes played to the desert saloon stage up for a complete hair raising version of their classic “Wiser Time.” Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell’s twang and Rich Robinson’s tone blended with Chris’s vocals: “No time left now for shame, horizon behind me, no more pain, windswept stars blink and smile, another song, another mile.” The band gave the crowd the remedy they all needed to close the show. 

For the encore, the Crowes channeled that energy for Led  Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What Can I Do?,” with Robert Plant’s lyrics fitting for the overall vibe. “I guess there’s just one thing a-left for me to do. Going to pack my bags and move on my way … going to leave her where the guitars play.”

The Black Crowes play next in New York at Jones Beach on September 17 and Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center on September 25. 

The Black Crowes, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Saratoga Springs, NY – Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Setlist: Shake Your Moneymaker, Twice as Hard, Jealous Again, Sister Luck, Could I’ve Been So Blind, Seeing Things, Hard to Handle, Thick N’ Thin, She Talks to Angels, Struttin’ Blues, Stare It Cold, Sting Me, Hotel Illness, Oh Josephine, Wiser Time, Thorn in My Pride, Remedy
Encore: Hey Hey What Can I Do

Photos by Erin Reid Coker

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