Black Crowes "He's Gone" (8/9/2005)

Without a new album to promote and without doing a single word of press, the quintessential lineup of The Black Crowes (featuring the return of wayward members Marc Ford and Steve Gorman) reconvened earlier this year for a powerhouse tour that has quietly been selling out a run of theatres to ecstatic loyal fans (to say nothing of sharing a bill with Tom Petty over the summer.

Luck had been against me the last two time I tried to see the Crowes; first when Jimmy Page threw his back out and had to cancel the remainder of their Zeppelin revue tour, and the following year when I had tickets for the Greek Theater in LA...on 9/11/2001. I don't need to tell you why that show was cancelled. But last Saturday I finally caught up with them at the Hard Rock here in Vegas, and it was truly a show worth the wait. If you think the band disapppeared sometime after "Hard To Handle", then no amount of my words will be able to tell you what a homecoming this was. But for those of you who have kept up with the band over the years: check them out if you haven't caught them yet on this tour. They are truly firing on all cylinders again, recreating a caliber of shows that hasn't been matched since 1996. ("Music by Heads, for Heads", as Chris Robinson said Saturday night.)

In the spirit of one of their forefathers, the Grateful Dead, the band's setlist catalog has grown by leaps and bounds, with no two shows coming out the same. In a nod to this style, the band has included a few isolated Dead numbers this year, including Saturday's closer ("Deal"), and today's download "He's Gone"; affectionately offered on the anniversary of Garcia's passing. The complete audience tapes of this tour can be found at etree.org.

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