Chris Robinson Brotherhood
The Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh
Saturday, Nov. 1 & Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014
Clouds of smoke emanating from strategically placed incense trays covered the stage as the Chris Robinson Brotherhood stepped forward to open their two-night stand at the Lincoln Theatre. Both nights, the group led with R&B classics, setting a baseline. Night one launched with the good-time number “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” by legendary R&B songwriter Hank Ballad, with “Try Rock n’ Roll” by Frank Motley opening night two. Each performance presented a relatively limited song selection, especially considering Robinson’s considerable background with the Black Crowes.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood has three releases, the latest being the well-received Phosphorescent Harvest; over the span of both nights, the group played 7 of the 10 songs from the album. This latest release finds the group honing their sound with a more focused collection of mostly co-written songs by Robinson and lead guitarist Neal Casal. The group’s greatest strength might be its variety of styles, all dipped in the psychedelic stuff at the group’s core. “Badlands Here We Come,” a song reminiscent of “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” sees the group take a cosmic left turn from the standard minor key brooding country tune. “Beggar’s Moon” boasts a backbeat that served as the bread and butter for folks in the crowd just looking to sway side-to-side. “Clear Blue Skies” and “The Good Doctor” served as a one-two punch that put the group’s range at the forefront.
The group dug back into its previous releases, too, with “Someday Past The Sunset” serving as a thumping reminder of the group’s love of sudden overdrive. “Driving Wheel,” a classic in the Robinson back catalog, allowed the group to showcase its harmonizing strength. Cover songs remained a staple, from Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me” to the delightful Tony Joe White cover, “Saturday Night In…,” which the group arranged as more of a James Brown number, minus the horns.
And as it was all winding down, the group tipped their collective hats to a vocalist and group who undoubtedly influenced its cosmic direction. “Mr Charlie,” originally sung by Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and performed by the Grateful Dead, ended this two-night stand, recharging the sizable Sunday night crowd before they exited into the brisk fall evening around midnight.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood, “Badlands Here We Come”