“Have you heard the news, everybody’s rockin’ tonight?!” Boston has long been a city synonymous with great music and performances. From the Berklee College of Music to Boston Music Hall and Boston Garden, it’s a city rich in venues and culture. We put two more legendary nights on that list, when the CRB rode into town on a near blizzard for a 2 night stay in February 2015. This entry focuses on the opening night, 2/13/2015 and a show that features a monster first set and a second played with a near flawless force. Sure to please and warm even the chilliest of freaks souls.
The opening Good Rockin Tonight generates all the friction and flow needed and includes some great stage banter from CR. The band, in high spirits, then launches into a Turnstile that finds our Freak-Astronauts in lock step. Really pushing the ending, lead by a powerful rhythm guitar from our master of ceremonies. Disappearing into the ether of Tornado is always welcomed, and this melodic breather is our last stop for provisions for our mind. What follows is an exercise in dimensional diagnosis as they take us on a beautiful journey through Star Or Stone / Meanwhile>Tulsa. This run is 40 minutes of music that will truly have you lost between worlds and floating in and out of the imagery and auditory landscapes. Flying, falling with Star Or Stone is the jumping off point. Neal takes over propulsion in the solo, first using gravity to pull us down in a free form dive of sound. Then, just before the crash, he steps on his pedal and off we go into the stratification and stars. The “telephone ringing” verse snaps us back and they call our attention to the comet shooting across the sky. For most bands that would be the high point of the set, the show even! But not these explorers who trade in the currency of collective consciousness. Meanwhile>Tulsa is always its own special trip, but tonight it takes some new and uncharted courses. At over 16 minutes it’s got all the freedom it needs, starting with a laid back jazzy groove. The band takes turns adding color at every note until eventually the canvas explodes into a swinging jam. Tony’s rolling thunder slows it all down and the pathways merge effortlessly with the opening chords of Tulsa Yesterday. This, the last part of the three song journey takes us through the echoes of old dust bowl ballrooms and has some of the highest peaks of the night. By now most of you are familiar with the songs second half jam, but be assured this is up there with best of them. With ebbs and flows that seemingly have no limits it threatens to combust before withdrawing into a lazy little sauntering outro passage that acts as the perfect comedown. The momentum continues with a very appropriate The Music’s Hot, followed by Neal playing us right into a locomotive paced Shore Power that drives the set to a fiery close.
The late great Leon Russell has always been a sort of cosmic twin to everything the CRB is about, and they’ve been paying their tributes to him from the start. Stranger In Strange Land is tailor made for the band and these times we find ourselves in today. They kick off the second set with a really nice version that finds CR laying into the vocal and the band hammering away behind him. Turn this one up loud and let it ring out! All is well in the world as Wheel Don’t Roll plays and Tony leans heavy on that bell. “Let nothing come between you and the love you make.” There are a few song in the bands basket of magic that require we gather ourselves and give our full attention. One of those is Train Robbers. The always stunning and on nights like this transcendental NEM holdover is played with a surgeons precision, CR’s vocal haunting throughout. And when Neal steps into the solo it reaches levels you just don’t often hear. Bending and burrowing into your soul, conveying all the pitfalls the songs character avoids. The buoyant bounce and rhythmic chug of Beggars Moon is filled with woozy warbles from our Wizard and struts us toward the beach. “Shine a light shine a light.” First taking our tour through the seedy grooves of the Grateful Dead’s, West L.A. Fadeaway. They bop and sway, dodging “old mistakes” and “favors for the mob”. Tony hits the pocket and the gang follows as they stretch this In The Dark standout to over 10 minutes. With Adam again out front, accompanied by Neal’s edgy leads, “hey hey heeeeey”! Our funky foray into the cosmos, Vibration & Light Suite, takes off next as we near the the end of the set. Our shiny tin can capsule barely stays intact as we careen through asteroid fields of sound. Losing all contact with mission control for several minutes as the band disappears into a collision of galactic sound and crunching guitars from Neal. We finally grab onto a familiar sound and repeating riff as they explode into Hard To Handle and blow the roof off the venue. The place is in an absolutely frenzy and the Brotherhood doesn’t back off an inch. CR’s soulful raps fueling the engine as it howls and whines at peak performance levels. Rosalee is the only thing that could hold all this momentum and ends the set in fine fashion. It’s hard to believe they can take us any higher but away we go. After the “downhill to the beach” pause, they give it one last full throttle high speed burn. Every nerve in our bodies still buzzing, we return for the slow sway of one of THE best renditions of Driving Wheel you’ll ever hear. Close your eyes and listen, and if you don’t find yourself right in the middle of this song in every way then you better check your pulse, and your soul. They pick it back up and send everyone out into the chilly Boston night with a raging pass through the second Dead tune of the night, Bertha. “Test me test me, why don’t you arrest me!!” What a show!!!
As I stated earlier, this is night one of a two night run and the second night was a barn burner as well. It was also Valentines Day and has a fantastic Vibration>Ride, a Lizzie Mae they peaks and peaks and an encore of the Stones, It’s Only Rock and Roll! Yeah you’ll like it!! I suggested just getting both nights and making this corner of your collection complete. It’s all just a click away at the link! Everyone have a great start to your week tomorrow and let love lead the way! Freak On brothers and sisters.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Paradise Rock Club
There’s A Good Rockin’ Tonight Jump The Turnstile
Star Or Stone
Meanwhile In The Gods>
The Music’s Hot
Stranger In A Strange Land
If Your Wheel Don’t Roll
West L.A. Fadeaway
Vibration & Light Suite
Hard To Handle