Live Zone

The Black Crowes, Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, 18th May 2024



Last night, Saturday, in boxing parlance: someone’s ‘0’ had to go. And it did. Unbeaten champ’ Tyson Fury lost to unbeaten Ukranian boxer Oleksandr Usyk for the “Undisputed” heavyweight title in a thrilling fight in Saudi Arabia – the first time a boxer could claim all the world championship belts and that coveted “undisputed” accolade since Lennox Lewis did it 25 years ago.

At the same time as the undercard fighters took to the ring before the biggest fight of a generation, there was a knockout event happening much closer to home; at the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton where a capacity 3,400 fans paid out £75 for standing tickets and £100 for seats to catch US rockers The Black Crowes on their “Happiness Bastards” tour

A pair of Crowes: The Robinson brothers

The last night of a four-date UK leg of a 35-city tour across North America and Europe which kicked off at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville in April, to promote their first album for 15 years, “Happiness Bastards” – which came out in March this year on the band’s Silver Arrow Records label, and peaked at # 31 in the main UK album chart and made it to # two in the Independent album chart.

The tour had stops in Manchester, London’s Eventim Apollo and Newcastle before The West Midlands’ show, and they then head across the water for 10 European shows. Support act for the UK shows is Jim Jones All Stars who gave a good account of themselves as the hors d’oeuvre before a tasty main course to come.

The headliners offering up 17 songs including the one-song encore, opening up with “Bedside Manners” and closing with “God’s Got It”, the Reverend Charlie Jackson cover.

The Robinson brothers, Chris on lead vocals and Rich on lead guitar, and their musical mates on bass [longtime band member Sven Pipien], drums, keyboards/organ and two backing singers hitting the stage to the sounds of AC/DC and “It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”.

They deliver seven of the 10 songs on the latest album and the set includes three covers: Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner”, Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle” and the encore song.

They have been doing The Stones’ “Rocks Off” on this tour, but not tonight. [Full set list at bottom of the page].

At their London show on Wednesday at the Eventim Apollo, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler popped up on a cover of his band’s classic, “Mama Kin” – his first time on stage since fracturing  his larynx in September 2023. Fellow rock royalty Led Zep’s Jimmy Page watching from the side of the stage, but no guitar in his hands.

Chris states early on that despite the tour being named after their new album, fans would be getting the hits and the fan faves, some deep dive older stuff material and some of the new songs too.

The current songs have a lot about them and there’s no conflict or unevenness between the stuff we know of old , and the far more recent material.  And of course, with the album out now for circa 11 weeks, many know the tracks on it, note for note, word for word.

On stage it would be a guitarist’s wet dream, especially lovers of vintage amplifiers. There’s stacks of it with analogue and valve gear from the likes of Marshall and others, adding to The Black Crowes’ authentic rock and roll sound that is unashamedly a throwback to times gone by.

I liked the huge mirror with lights around it propped up centre stage behind Chris, and the drummer sat up on high behind singer, bassist and guitarist; keyboards/organ to one side on a riser and the two backing singers on the other side up high.

Like a set on a vintage TV show like Ready Steady Go or Shindig. But I am told that the venue and its stage was too small for them to get all their gear into, so some of it was left outside.

The Black Crowes

Since The Black Crowes made their comeback they have toured hard and played more than 150 shows across at least 20 countries. The press blub ahead of the tour and their ninth studio album release pulled no punches:

“2024 marks 40 years since the inception of The Black Crowes, and the Robinson Brothers are claiming this momentous year as their own. Following decades marked by sex, drugs, fights, breakups, and divorce, they are leaving their bullshit behind and coming together to celebrate their mutual love for rock n’ roll.” Amen to that boys.

There’s a lot of heavy nods to The Faces, The Stones and their ilk across the new along player and throughout this lively, uber-pleasing rousing live set.

Chris channeling Sir Rod and Sir Mick on rambunctious rockers tonight, such as the glorious “Jealous Again”, even down to the way he holds the  mic’ on the stand with its splayed out legs just like Mr Stewart did/does. [A recent gig in the States saw Ronnie Wood jamming on the Faces’ brilliant “Stay With Me”.]

There are shades of Paul Rodgers and Free/Bad Company marinated in what Chris does and how he does it in this raw and raunchy live set and that is no bad thing. There’s some country blues and Americana vibes, especially on “Wilted Rose, which on the album is a duet with Grammy-nominated country star Lainey Wilson.


The Black Crowes

On the new record, the band are produced by Grammy-winner Jay Joyce who has worked with country star Eric Church among many others, and they benefit greatly from this collaboration. A standout on the LP and in this set tonight is “Cross Your Fingers” – with its grungy Southern rock flavour and it works well live.

The Black Crowes formed in Atlanta in 1984, soon becoming “the next big thing” in raucous rock and roll, reaching dizzy career heights until the siblings’ constant falling out forced the demise of the band, and they called it a day after the release of their last studio album, “Before the Frost…Until the Freeze”, in 2009.

It was 10 years before they properly settled their differences after a few false starts, and eventually reformed the band in 2019,- three years more before any new releases; with an EP of covers by the likes of The Stones, Little Feat and Bowie.

As “comebacks” go, these rock heavyweights are in great shape and look likely to go many more rounds yet; packing a mighty punch that is definitely undisputed, on this outing. Can we have a rematch clause please?


Jim Jones All Stars
Jim Jones All Stars



Live photos: Jason Sheldon

Studio photo: Ross Halfin

Words: Christopher Weston





Set List

Bedside Manners

Rats and Clowns

Twice as Hard


Stare It Cold

Cross Your Fingers

Wilted Rose

Road Runner

Thorn in My Pride

Wanting and Waiting

Hard to Handle

She Talks to Angels

Bleed It Dry

No Speak No Slave

Jealous Again



God’s Got It



Follow us for all the latest news!

This function has been disabled for Music Republic Magazine.