Bringing together Oasis and the Black Crowes, the Brotherly Love tour is the kind of package that arrives during a recession, either economic or in sales. With the addition of Spacehog for the Greek Theater dates, the tour scores something of a musical hat trick — three sets of brothers, three movie star wives and three distinct brands of retro-rock.
Following Spacehog’s short set (which made little impact save for its 1996 hit, “In the Meantime”), Oasis took the stage in typical desultory style. The group’s concerts used to be like NHL hockey — people claimed they went because they admired the grace and precision of the playing, but were really hoping a fight would break out.
Never expansive performers, the new sober and peaceable edition of the band trades arrogant tension for a certain dispassionate competence. Without the distraction of their old antics, you’re left to figure out the music’s sources — “Bang a Gong” for “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” “Imagine” for “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Uptight” for “Slide Away.”
The only trace of the former attitude was in its set list: light on hits, leaden with obscurities and B-sides. Liam Gallagher has a classic rock growl and his brother Noel can write a surging rock song as well as anyone, but their performance was stiff and stilted. It was as if they were intent on proving Oasis can act like professional musicians.
If Oasis cloaked itself in manicured precision, the Black Crowes reveled in their music’s loose ends, and it gave their set an organic quality that Oasis lacked.
From the moment they cranked up the guitars on “Midnight From the Inside Out,” (from their just released “Lions”) they quickly established themselves as Oasis’ antithesis.
Rollicking and lively, the music breathed. Lacking Oasis’ grim sense of entitlement, the Crowes are free to be a classically raucous rock and roll band in the tradition of Humble Pie and the Faces.
With their resistance to samplers, drum machines, loops, even cordless mics, the Crowes are resolutely old-fashioned. It’s the kind of performance a boomer can point to and say, “Kid, that’s how it used to be done.”
The only thing missing was the sense of shared political urgency (and no, the cloud of pot smoke that hung over the amphitheater like a marine layer doesn’t count), which often leaves retro rock shows feeling like vaudeville.
The Crowes managed to avoid this pitfall by advocating rock as simply the soundtrack for collective good times. Led by Chris Robinson’s leather-lunged vocals and rubber-limbed dancing, they exuded a joyousness that’s contagious.
If the jams sometimes floated off into the ether, it didn’t matter; the music was anchored by Steve Gorman’s brawny, just-behind-the beat drumming.
By the time they brought members of Oasis onstage to join in a Muscle Shoals-styled cover of the Bee Gees’ (yet another set of brothers!) “To Love Somebody” it was obvious this night that generosity and pleasure easily trumped craft and precision.