Chris Robinson Brotherhood at the Colonial Theater

Matthew Shelter on June 28, 2012

Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Colonial Theatre
Pittsfield, MA
June 26

The key to taking in a show by the Chris Robinson Brotherhood is to arrive with no preconceived notions about what you’re going to get. Don’t go looking for Black Crowes songs; don’t go there for old stuff, or new stuff or a specific cover. This is the kind of show to just take a flyer on and go. If you like the Crowes, if you like the Grateful Dead, if you like the Allman Brothers, you will be rewarded.

The vibe at the Brotherhood’s show at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA was decidedly Dead-like – but on a very intimate scale (the theatre seats around 750 people). So maybe a better parallel would be the Jerry Garcia Band, not least because CRB guitarist Neil Casal is one of the very few side men I’ve heard who is truly plugged into Garcia’s way of playing to the melody.

After limbering up with a few songs, the Brotherhood hit their stride midway through the first set with a sublime version of “Tulsa Yesterday,” the 11+-minute opening track on CRB’s recently-released Big Moon Ritual album. They followed with a cover of the Dead’s “Brown-Eyed Women,” before dipping back into Bad Moon Ritual for another new standout, “Star Or Stone.” They closed out the first set with a stretched out, jam-infused version of “Blue Suede Shoes,” featuring a dancing-in-the-aisles keyboard solo by Adam MacDougall.

Set 2 was a gem from start to finish, opening with the Garcia-esque “100 Days of Rain,” and then alternating between bluesy takes on songs such as the old R&B standard “Never Been To Spain,” Bob Dylan’s “Tough Mama,” and “The Last Place That Love Lives” (the sole Black Crowes’ number of the night) with stretched out jams on “Rosalee,” “Girl on the Mountain” (off of Robinson’s 2004 solo disc This Magnificent Distance ), “Vibration and Light Suite” and “Sunday Sound.”

Robinson’s voice, both on _Bad Moon Ritual _and in concert, remains surprisingly affecting – and when Casal, MacDougall and bassist Mark Dutton fill in behind him, can generate some none-too-shabby four-part harmony.

The Brotherhood is on the road through the end of August and it’s a show well worth trying to catch.