Review: The Black Crowes With The Texas Gentlemen at Red Butte Garden

Where were you when you first heard The Black Crowes’ Shake Your Money Maker?  As long as we’re sharing, let me tell you my story. I first heard the acoustic guitar riff of “She Talks To Angels” on my car radio driving north on I-515 into the Las Vegas Valley to join my Air Force squadron. They were there blowing stuff up in the Nevada desert during our final dress rehearsal for the looming Gulf War. The line in the first stanza, “She’ll tell you she’s an orphan after you meet her family,” resonated with me. I knew that girl well! That CD remained a constant companion for several years, even if that girl remained long gone. 

Following their brotherly feud that led to their 2015 break up, The Black Crowes reunited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of their opus debut album (two years delayed due to the pandemic.) The Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre hosted the sold-out show on Aug. 17.

A flashy and jumbo sized old-school jukebox playing Elmore James’ 1961 hit “Shake Your Money Maker,” (the inspiration for the album’s title) opened the set. The Black Crowes then took the stage and belted out “Twice As Hard.” The standing crowd strapped themselves in for a full-throttled rock ‘n’ roll show. As lead singer Chris Robinson pranced with Jagger-esque swagger around the stage, the band played their debut album in order, in its entirety. “Jealous Again” topped the decibel meter as the crowd sang and danced their way through the first few 1972-inspired rolling thunder rock numbers.

The tempo then eased for a soulful slice of Humble Pie inspiration with “Seeing Things.” Backup singers Lesley Grant and Mackenzie Adams contributed much needed depth to this song. Backup singers rarely get the recognition they deserve, and Grant and Adams provided a passionate vocal boost with stirring harmonies throughout the set.

Robinson paid homage to Otis Redding, the original master of “Hard to Handle,” before ripping into the Black Crowes’ rock-ified version of the soul classic. The band kept up their hard-charging tempo with “Thick N’ Thin,” a song that has always reminded me of The Rolling Stones’ “Rip This Joint.” The instantly recognizable acoustic chord progression of “She Talks To Angels” readied the crowd for another sing-along. For a band that was getting reacquainted after seven years apart, they were tight. No moss was growing on this rolling stone-styled band.

When the band completed Money Maker, they moved on to other classics like “Thorn in My Pride” and “Remedy.” It’s been 30 years since the release of their second album, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. I’d be totally down for another anniversary tour playing that record in its entirety.

They ended a high energy evening with a cover of Lou Reed’s “Rock and Roll.” It doesn’t get much better than that! For me, hearing Shake Your Money Maker again was like visiting an old friend. It’s almost unfathomable that The Black Crowes created this classic album when they were in their early 20s. I’m sure they never imagined they’d be playing it in its entirety 32 years later. I’m sure glad I was there. It beats blowing stuff up in the Nevada desert.  

The Texas Gentlemen opened the show with a familiar yet unique blend of psychedelic rock. They cogently melded a variety of musical influences while trailblazing a new sub-genre I’d like to coin “Sativa Rock.” Their heady music sounded like Steely Dan with a hint of Lynyrd Skynyrd-style jamming. They did their job preparing the crowd for a glorious night of vintage rock ‘n’ roll. 

  • Who: The Black Crowes with The Texas Gentleman
  • What: Shake Your Money Maker Tour
  • Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
  • When: August 17, 2022
  • Info: redbuttegarden.org

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John Nelson
John Nelsonhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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