Since the Black Crowes entered the mainstream consciousness 1½ decades ago, brothers Chris and Rich Robinson have alternated between generating light and heat, the latter of which has frequently melted the bond holding them together both musically and personally. Of late, however, they’ve pretty much stuck to illumination — a point that was vividly illustrated at this acoustic duo performance, the first shows on their “Brothers of a Feather” tour. Although bassist Sven Pipien offered the occasional bit of support, the siblings presented their music — a few fan favorites and a sizeable clutch of obscurities — in the most naked form imaginable.
That underscored the fragile beauty of many of the perf’s selections, from a hauntingly wounded version of “Good Friday” — an appropriate enough set opener, given the show was taking place on the day in question — to a newly written “Cut From a Shadow,” the latter of which cut deeply, thanks to Chris Robinson’s ragged-but-right delivery.
Brother Rich more than carried his weight over the course of the long, occasionally rambling set, lacing a version of “Girl on the Mountain” — a track from Chris’ 2004 solo album “This Magnificent Distance” — with high-lonesome lead lines that hung like wisps of smoke in the hall’s rarefied air.
The brothers meshed most intriguingly on the set’s passel of covers, which crossed genre lines with surprising grace, attesting to both their shared depth of historical knowledge and the fluidity with which they’re capable of shifting gears. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the members of any other mainstream hard rock act venturing as far afield to cover the Incredible String Band (an ethereal take on “Log Cabin Home in the Sky”) and Roy Acuff (a hoedown-ready rendition of “Wreck on the Highway”).
Whispers of variations on “what the heck was that?” wafted around for stretches of the perf, but for the most part, aud remained riveted — a testament to both the musical and communicative skills of these two inexorably linked musicians.
The “Brothers of a Feather” tour touches down at the Roxy in Los Angeles, April 24-26.