In the second of five Gotham engagements, the Black Crowes made the mistake of downplaying the tight melodies and solid Southern rock sound that keyed its success. Instead, the band performed a series of overlong lesser-known tunes that amounted to an uninspired case of wanderlust on guitar.
Shooting to mix the jam forum of the Allman Brothers with the hazy formlessness of a Grateful Dead show, the Crowes failed to build momentum and quickly ran out of anything very inventive. All the songs ended up sounding the same.
Lead singer Chris Robinson was the lone appealing component of the show. His charm is two-fold — a strong and clear voice rooted in vintage rock’s greatest singers, and a hyper stage presence that is evocative of that earlier era yet comes off unique in the mid-’90s. But while Robinson did his wild child boogie, the rest of the band stayed put, adding little in the way of visual performance.
Yet the guitars were a constant roadblock to Robinson. Even when he was peaking, particularly on “Thorn in My Pride,” a seven-minute lead-in and a long harmonica-driven jam in the middle killed whatever power and substance the vocals produced. Only keyboardist Steve Gorman stood out, providing the band a sense of cohesion and a bluesy depth.