The Black Crowes - Mcr Apollo


Icons The Black Crowes kicked off the European leg of their current ‘Happiness Bastards’ tour at Manchester’s glorious Apollo Theatre last night. Allegedly the night wasn’t a sell-out but judging by the numbers downstairs any availability must have been up in the gods as by the time the Robinson brothers took to the stage the place was heaving. 

First up were guests for the European tour, The Jim Jones Allstars.

I was aware of Jim from his past life in Thee Hypnotics but his latest outfit had passed me by so this was a great way to be introduced. Throwing himself all over the Apollo stage, Jim led his band through a raucous set of no-nonsense rock n roll, his horn section adding an almighty heap of soul and ensuring the Jim Jones Allstars stand out from the crowd. 

And so shortly after nine pm, the brothers Robinson along with the current incarnation of The Black Crowes took to the beautifully carnivalesque stage and delivered a true rock n roll masterclass. 

From the moment the band walked on stage, Chris Robinson, resplendent in a red and blue striped suit, commanded the Apollo. Few frontmen appear so naturally comfortable being centre stage, strutting and swaggering around, arms flailing, hips swaying, preening himself lovingly in the enormous mirror placed smack bang in the middle of the drum riser. Every single one of brother Rich’s riffs appeared to electrify Chris, his body movements reflecting every slide, hammer on, full off or bend superbly delivered by Rich.

The set blended old and new material perfectly…. The new record ‘Happiness Bastards’ is glorious in its harking back to the band’s early nineties releases that propelled them to global superstardom and it was obvious, as well as refreshing, to see the crowd lap up the new material as lovingly as the band appeared to play it. Tracks such as ‘Bedside Manners’ ‘Wanting and Waiting’ ‘Dirty Cold Sun’ and ‘Cross Your Fingers’ perfectly compliment all the classics in The Black Crowes extensive repertoire. 

Some tuning issues for Riches Stratocaster during ‘Cross Your Fingers’ led to Chris calling a halt…’ you guys didn’t come all the way to Manchester to listen to this… it’s fuckin’ terrible… let’s do it again… anyway, you’re gonna’ fuckin’ love this song’. Moments later Rich reappeared from his guitar tech’s pit after yet another guitar change and the band ripped into ‘Cross Your Fingers’ for a second, and this time complete, rendition.

‘High School Confidential’ is dedicated to the night’s opening guest Jim Jones as ‘its fucking rock’n’roll’… The track is one of the night’s highlights.

With a ‘Here’s one you know’ from Chris’, the band launched into ‘Hard to Handle’ to the delight of the Apollo crowd. ’She Talks To Angels’ follows, the nights sing along, hands in the air moment.

As Rich Robinson hits those opening notes to start ‘Sting Me’ the Apollo erupts. Quickly followed by ‘Jealous Again’ and ‘Remedy’ it’s a stunning end to the show and leaves Manchester wanting more. A couple of minutes later the band are back on stage and run through a raw version of ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ to close the night.