The Crowes Turn the Page

By Jeffrey Berman

Unreal. Mind-boggling. Euphoria. Unforgettable. Pick any of these terms, or one of your own. Anything positive would suffice in describing the what happened on stage on October, 16, when The Black Crowes and Jimmy Page teamed up for the fourth show in their seven show mini-tour. While heading to the Centrum with a couple of friends, I couldn’t help but wonder what would transpire on stage that evening. Having seen the set lists from the previous New York City shows, we couldn’t get there fast enough.

It all began at roughly eight o’clock when I heard the familiar riff of "Celebration Day," which was greeted by a tremendous applause. Page looked awesome, tickling the strings like only he can. Crowes’ singer Chris Robinson looked comfortable as he belted out the chorus "My, my. I am so happy. I want to join the band." It was apparent that this was only the very beginning of what would prove to be an incredible evening. A rousing version of "Custard Pie" and "Sick Again" followed, which were both dead on the mark, and made every Zep and Crowes purist hungry for more.

After hearing three Zeppelin songs to open the show, I got to wondering if we would hear any Black Crowes tunes at all? That query was immediately answered with a stirring rendition of "No Speak No Slave," which is probably one of the finest versions of any tune the Crowes perform live. Page looked at ease performing the Crowes material, but it was right back to the Led Zeppelin, with "What Is And Should Never Be." Wow! Considering how I figured most people of my generation never had the opportunity to see Led Zeppelin; I was starting to think I was just getting plain spoiled at this point (and I was).

"Hard to Handle" was next followed by a truly bluesy "Mellow Down Easy." The Crowes appeared to be fully at ease performing Zep tunes, in addition to the two Crowes’ tunes they had done to this point, and they got right back into in with (what many in attendance felt was) the highlight of the evening, the all-too-familiar organ introduction of "Your Time Is Gonna Come." Keyboardist Eddie Harsch did not disappoint as he tickled the keys and let Page and company take over from there. Page and guitarist Rich Robinson traded leads back and forth, and it was no coincidence that the Centrum was seemingly shaking. The Black Crowes staple, "Remedy" was next and it couldn’t have come at a better time in the show. Chris Robinson was jumping around, clearly enjoying himself, and Page quickly got the hang of things, adding his own personal touch to what is probably the Crowes finest song.

It didn’t drop off after that either. "Lemon Song," an Elmore James classic "Shake Your Money Maker," "Shapes of Things" were after "Remedy," and it appeared that the audience was going to keep being fed just a little more. "Nobody’s Fault But Mine" and "Heartbreaker" closed out the set, and the band left the stage before returning for an encore or four.

I couldn’t believe what I had seen up to this point, and if they didn’t return to the stage I would have been fine with what I had witnessed, but fortunately that wasn’t in the cards. "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?" was the first encore, followed by "Out On The Tiles/Whole Lotta Love," which took on a life of its own (or so it seemed). I really thought that was the finale, but much to my delight, Chris Robinson then introduced Joe Perry of Aerosmith to close out the evening. "You Shook Me" and "Oh Well" officially closed things out for the evening, but not before seeing Page, Perry, and Rich Robinson practically blow up the stage with some insane licks.

October 16, 1999 will officially go down as the day that I (sort of) saw Led Zeppelin! Okay, so there was no Bonzo, Robert Plant, or John Paul Jones, but the Black Crowes were more than an adequate substitute. What an evening!