Hello again Freaks and Friends! We didn’t have to travel far to immerse ourselves into the Seattle Sound of December, 2nd 2016. As of the day of this entry it is our most recent collection of captured cool and what a joy it’s been listening to this not once but twice today! It’s easy to find so let’s get going!!
“Draw the curtains lets get down.” We roll into the west coast with what may be my favorite New Cannonball of the tour. Our Wizard getting those magic hands glowing right away. Neal fires his rockets and ushers in a very spacey ending that we don’t find on many trips across “sweet sister asphalt”. We get a triple shot from the barrel of “bootleggers wisdom” in Roan County Banjo. Tony and his steady stroll always takes this song over early and here it just sweeps us along. An explosive return by Adam highlights the second half of an especially jammy version. Pay close attention to CR’s rhythms here. He and Tony in complete synch while Jeff walks the bass line with precision. We get swept away by a really nice Tornado that threatens to leave the surface and “disappear into the ether”.
A stand-alone Clear Blue Sky shows up next in our journey. One of my favorite songs which they have been doing without the Good Doctor section lately. What this one lacks by dropping that last pathway, it makes up for in spades with a one of Neal’s meditations in madness. He carries us along into a really big jam, steps out front and away we go!! We modulate smoothly and directly into the always exciting first set Sunday Sound, our Freak Anthem. As we approach the midway point you can almost feel the band pause, as if bracing for the coming set of waves. Adam plays a picturesque natural piano passage but being the shaman of the shake he is, promptly switches to phasers and blows our minds. Beaming messages to the Pacific Northwest mothership. Where Clear Blue Sky lost the Good Doctor, here our Wizard has truly gone insane. Try this 5 minutes of Mr MacDougall with the correct headspace. Thank me later. We are treated to an extended spacious intro to Tulsa Yesterday. Jeff announcing our destination with those signature lines, soft to start and then with growing purpose and power. Neal playing with what I can only describe as a “Tulsa Tone”. This one takes all kinds of directions as we “find our garden and let it grow”.
A pristine transition into California Hymn follows, so smooth that if you aren’t listening close you’ll miss it and find yourself in the middle of all glory! Hallelujah it’s time to spread the news….Neal still with that “Tulsa Tone” takes over here. This song is really starting to settle into something special live and this Seattle interpretation is one of the best. “Heads are gonna turn when they hear that sound” of the familiar Bramlett/Davis cover Hello L.A. Goodbye Birmingham. Usually a set opener, tonight the band uses it to signal the close of this brawling first half. CR gives assurance they’ll be “back in a flash” and our dancing feet slowly descend and touch solid ground for the first time in over an hour.
Our congregation howls its happiness and anticipation as our ships crew makes its return to their battle stations. Kicking things off with Rosalee is always a forecast of revelry and tonight that never rang more accurate. This take on our ode to our Country Thang starts and remains at a slower tempo than most. A funky little narcotic pace that they leave open-ended. The song baring the latest albums title “Anyway you love, we know how you feel” next proves these guys are the real deal. This ain’t no “sugar cure”! I absolutely am in love with this songs biting riff and this is one of the heavier renditions of Forever As The Moon. Man this show is great. Listening again now I as write it’s going to end up high on my 2016 list. A song perfectly suited for Seattle, 100 Days of Rain follows. We settle into Pacific Standard Time and implore the band to “take my mind and wander” and they do just that until dropping seamlessly into Dixieland. The New Orleans R&B legend Alvin Robinson lends his song Down Home Girl to the Brotherhood. They’ve been really working this out lately and this is a tremendous version. At nearly 13 minutes is one of the best. After a few verses and a jam CR whips out the harmonica while Jeff and Tony keep a slinky southern groove. Biding their time until our own Professor Longhair joins the fray. This is one for the mix tapes folks.
The stand out from the new EP makes its appearance next. Shadow Cosmos was a song I fell in love with from the very first time those notes hit my brain. A great piece of music with a message just as beautiful, “there’s no winner without love”. Even putting us in the heart of the coyote, as he feels the pain of missing his mate. Only the CRB. Now it’s time for things to get really flowing. Ain’t It Hard But Fair always a signpost of a mountain range of jams, really gets us moving in that direction. I love this song and love how the chorus chugs along until it explodes into the glassy rolling groove. A great example of how this band doesn’t need or use traditional song structures to create songs that still feel very traditionally folk rock. Within this unique “language of bliss” we easily “find out salvation”. A divine vocal rap by CR at the end, with Tony providing the beat for some superb Harmonies.
Now it’s time for only those “not afraid to join the dance” to proceed reading or listening any further. This Seattle Vibration & Light Suite is my absolute favorite of this entire year, and one of the best period! It starts out very tame and mellow for a second set Vibration. You can really feel them gearing up, almost pacing themselves. Even Neal’s first solo is laid back and chill. But we are for sure setting our controls for the heart of the sun. The first signs of extraterrestrial life appear from Adam as they shift into what I guess we can call the middle bridge. Charting a song that defies all time and logic doesn’t make much sense but it’s fun to try. We cross into hyper space via a “hole in the wall nobody knows is there”. Blast off!! Tony changes the beat and one by one the members begin to click in. Neal leaves the spacecraft first with a deep toned solo probing the foreign territory with Tony close behind tapping his support. Jeff, as always, a solid safety line counted on being right where he needs to be without fail. Adam emerges and ladies and gentleman we are floating in space. CR brushing psychedelic rhythms all around. Then we have a tremendous tumbling drum breakdown and the mood shifts to a spooky 50’s sci-fi themed feel. Then boom….Narcissus appears with that familiar warble giving hope that this flagship is here to rescue our explorers and US! The chime lick intro gets a lot of extra room to travel and the whole band seems to dance around it musically. You can tell they have the crowd in the palm of their mystic hands at this point. Standing wide eyed and smiling. CR back in harmonica for the big finish. We return to our sweet Rosalee that was left open-ended at the start of the set. A big full band harmony finally touches us back down safely on the beach with our golden shore love. WOW!!!
They truly left the Seattle crowd wanting more and they give it to them. The Velvet Underground classic, Rock & Roll, is tailor made for a freak-a-fied CRB translation. This love letter to music and how our “life was saved by Rock & Roll” is the perfect end to the evening. And I’m so happy to see this showing up a little now in setlists. The guys just closed the fall tour with it actually. Not that you should ever limit yourself to just one CRB show from this tour, but if you are forced to, you wouldn’t be wrong to choose this beauty. It’s the right mix of R&B, rock, psychedelic folk and country. With some really spacey far out jams. And what may be one of the best Vibrations ever. The perfect escape during holiday travels or to get the whole family moving when the shopping has worn you down. Make your favorite Freak happy and grab it at the link below! Freak On brothers and sisters!!
Check out our gallery from this night here:
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
New Cannonball Rag
Roan County Banjo
Clear Blue Sky
Hello L.A. Bye Bye Birmingham
Forever As The Moon
100 Days Of Rain
Down Home Girl
Ain’t It Hard But Fair
Vibration And Light Suite
Narcissus Soaking Wet