Music at its very best transcends all borders, both physical and imposed. Maybe the best manifestation of “the CRB setting us free” comes from the part of our planet that gets relatively few chances to see the band play live. The previous U.K. tour spawned many memorable moments and delivered new freaks and friends to our community in brilliant musical mass. From London to Bilbao, Amsterdam to Bikini, this bands magic continued to connect us with our omni-locational commune, further filling both the scene and our hearts. The 2018 trek east had long been anticipated, rumored and teased. Even those who couldn’t make the trip knew the returning tapes would soon transfer our consciousness there, dancing dents into foreign grounds with our brethren in boogie. This time the journey started with the forces that be dropping down just enough snow to keep the rhythm section (Tony & Jeff) stranded and unable to make the first few dates of the tour. But, the band played on. To holy houses of the howling. Packed and participating in every note and conjured sound that Neal, Adam and CR could offer. For the 6th show abroad the full Brotherhood gang settled into Berlin and it’s here that the Almanac picks up with it’s next entry.
Song and cover choices are always in mind for fans of bands that strive for a new setlist trip every night. Especially when they embark on special paths such as this. In Barcelona they gave em a little Loaded, VU “Rock and Roll” and proudly flashed their Bay Area badges by already laying down a few Dead tunes earlier in the tour. Including an absolutely stoned space truckin version of “Mr. Charlie” in Madrid at the first full band show of the run. And of course we have to mention the much talked about JGB/Byrds style groove they put on Amsterdam as a 3-piece.
Here, on the 9th of March in Berlin, we were out of the gate like a beam of light as “Seven Nights To Rock” hit every corner of the room. Pushed by Jeff’s bobbing bassline, “Lizzie Mae” absolutely explodes. This is one of those places where CR’s cosmic cadence becomes part of the rhythm section itself. Each rap and run intertwined with Tony’s time and compelled solely by the moment. The peak is big here and finds our Wizard riding in high, bending every key and our heads further into the bliss. “Only Daddy” slows the tempo after bubbling out of the previous songs rumble and shake. It’s a syrupy slide through this now familiar incarnation of Jimmy Bryant’s classic. The “Star Or Stone” that follows is one of the shows most brilliant crests, with the entire band in a consensual and conscious pocket and Neal’s guitar passages raining down dream-like and encompassing layers over the entire song. Diving in and out of time and tempo while reaching ever higher into the cosmos, it’s an exercise in complete transcendental control. The organic inspiration and sparkle of “Clear Blue Sky” and the geographic tip of the hat “Never Been To Spain” collectively bring the set to a rousing close. Setting the stage and our sights for the boogie harvesting second still to come.
“Turnstile” and “Someday Past The Sunset” quickly prove to be the prana from which the second set breathes itself to life. Originating from the creeping groove of the latter, the climb up the vine goes first through our spine before exploding into our minds cerebral sunset. “Someday Past” also kicks off a solar illuminated trilogy of sorts (Someday Past/Blonde Light/Glow). “Blonde Light of Morning” so perfectly paced that it assists us easily into a sense of psychedelic galactic sunrise, “the earth, the sky, the sea, the cosmos you and me”. The songs slow motion post lyrical interlude contains calming keys and guitars that bite just enough to wake our heads from the music’s narcotic nod. And when it all swells back into the harmony hued final lyrical call, it’s hypnotic and musically hieroglyphic in the way only CRB songs can be. A seamless saunter moves us into “Glow” and suddenly we are off, floating freely along planetary rings of love.
“Glow” is a journey into itself. The cosmic Freak outs from earlier have completed their orbit and started to re-form like the signal of an interplanetary all night psychedelic station coming in strong. Hanging now between the green and blue auroral flashes and the sister star, sun. Gazing upon its black sky suspension. From this angle, oculus and void of the usual setting of blue sky. Now surrounded by the blackness of space and apparent chaos of the cosmos. A sort of overview effect set to music.
The next trip is based and begins in the boogie, our freak fountainhead, the body-groove. The gauzy slumber of “Blonde Light” > “Glow” sliced by the sharp shining edge of “40 Days”. It’s a not so subtle rock and roll wake up call to arms as we head into the shows final scorching stretch. “Behold The Seer” and it’s roaring inferno like jam could have been a set or show apex for lesser bands. But here, late in the Berlin night, it’s but a powerful piece of the puzzle as we fell further into the second set’s exploratory heart. Moving effortlessly into the setlist monolith “Vibration/Light Suite”.
“Vibration” starts with precision, each band member seemingly taking turns testing their posts and checking their gauges for the coming jump into musical hyperspace. Adam punches everyone in just after the 8 minute mark with a reverb laced cycling of the keys and the jams ignites into a multicolored blaze of sound and light. A booming bassline from beyond carries the momentum with everyone diving in and out of time and accessing one new wormhole after the next. Shifting gears through star fields and temperature until we arrive in the rotating opening riff of “Ride”. Picking up speed by the second until the songs now glowing nosecone breaks down into CR’s medicine man like calls. Compelling everyone to “Ride” on, carrying the energy generated throughout the night on and into their earthly lives. “Got Love” closes with its swell of offerings and sliding guitars. Always the perfect way to end a set it eventually combusts into its early 70’s Stones-like rave up, whipping the house into a frenzy. “Bye and Bye” lands in the encore with its usual soft and sweet serenade. Allowing time for the sweat to dry and everyone to hug goodbye until the next scheduled ship leaves for the stars.
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