Rich Robinson - LIVE: Islington Academy, London 2012

Through A Crooked Sun Tour
February 16 (21:00-22:55)
Capacity 800

As soon as The Black Crowes decided to take a break, founding guitarist Rich Robinson knew he didn't want to waste any time before moving ahead with a solo album and tour, releasing Through A Crooked Sun in North America in late 2011 and heading out on some club dates Stateside to support it.

The European edition of the album arrived in February 2012 and Rich lined up a European tour to coincide with its release, supported in the UK by Irish singer/songwriter Dave O'Grady, and taking in eight dates in all after playing 13 shows in central Europe and Scandinavia. The London date turned out to be the final show of the tour and everyone in the band was clearly in a good mood. The Islington Academy was far from packed for the show, but an appreciable number of fans turned out to see Rich's new offerings (the rest of the Crowes fans were probably unaware he was even here) and the noise they made throughout certainly went some way towards making up for any shortfall in numbers. O'Grady enjoyed a very warm reception as well and seemed to be doing a respectable trade in copies of his EP Dirty Little Secret afterwards.

On Through A Crooked Sun Robinson has crafted songs which tread the line between the Crowes' care-free rock side and their mellow folk side, which suits his voice perfectly. Live he pulls out all of the rocking, bluesy tracks from the disc (plus the four-track Llama Blues EP, which appears at the end of the European Edition of the album as bonus tracks) and mixes them with classic blues rock covers, changing large parts of the set's make-up every night, selecting from around 30 rehearsed songs much like the Crowes do, although nothing from Paper, his first solo album, seems to have found room in the repertoire. In order to cope with that he appears to have surrounded himself with first-rate musicians, all of which have previously been members of other bands who play a lot of different material on tour.

For this particular show most of the more rocking tracks from the album, with the notable absence of Broken Stick Crown from the EP, kept their places, and he chose some equally upbeat covers. Fleetwood Mac's Station Man has been a mainstay of the set, also appearing on the album, as has What Is Home by the Crowes, while others drift in an our of the set. In this time were Pink Floyd's Fearless, a very riffy version of Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl, and WAR's War Drums to close. In addition they played Winter by the Rolling Stones, which hadn't been rehearsed as part of the original batch of songs for the tour, but the band had worked out during soundcheck jams and were playing live for the first time.

Other nights included songs by Procol Harem, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons and different selections from Neil Young and WAR, making his sets very unpredictable. What isn't unpredictable though is the quality of the band's performance. All of the players are excellent and Rich himself is far more animated as a front-man than he's ever been as a side-man. While his voice is not technically one of the best around, he is capable of reproducing everything he did on record and really lets himself go when jamming on solos in between.

Crowes fans hoping he'll play lots of their songs will find themselves disappointed. Rich simply can't sing like his brother Chris, so most of the Crowes catalogue just isn't possible. Besides which he's got his own material and it's all good enough to warrant investigation, never mind his superb band and genuine rock 'n' roll performances. He hopes to return to the UK later in the year.

“ clearly in a good mood ”

Setlist: Gone Away / It's Not Easy / Falling Again / Station Man / Look Through My Window / By The Light of The Sunset Moon / Winter / Fearless / Standing On The Surface of The Sun / What Is Home? / Bye Bye Baby / Follow You Forever / Lost And Found / Fire Around // Cinnamon Girl / War Drums

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2012, Blues, Gigs, Rock,

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