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Concert Reviews:
Black Crowes, Tedeschi Trucks Band close tour in fine fashion at Meadow Brook

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013

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ROCHESTER HILLS -- On any given night, the pairing of the Black Crowes and the Tedeschi Trucks Band is an exciting proposition for fans of adventurous, improvisational rock 'n' soul.

But the last show of the group's month-long summer tour -- which took place Thursday, Aug. 15, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival -- raised the standard another notch or two.

Mixing the slightly melancholy air of the last night of summer camp with the exuberance of a post-graduation frat party, the two bands, as well as the not-to-be-overlooked opener London Souls, turned the closing concert into a collaborative bash that had the Meadow Brook crowd on its feet and open-mouthed during much of the night. The festivities began during Tedeschi Trucks' 90-minutes on stage; Crowes frontman Chris Robinson was a de facto 12th member of the band throughout the set, popping up in the back to play maracas or just cheerleading from behind the risers as the TTB sampled material from the troupe's upcoming "Made Up Mind" (which comes out Tuesday, Aug. 20) -- including "Misunderstood," "It's So Heavy" and the title track, all marked by Susan Tedeschi's searing vocals and Derek Truck's arresting slide guitar playing.

The group brought Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson on stage for the gently soulful "Midnight in Harlem," while Crowes drummer Steve Gorman took over one of the TTB's two kits for the Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling." London Souls guitarist Tash Neal and drummer Chris St. Hilaire then joined the party for a Sly & the Family Stone medley of "Sing a Simple Song" and "I Want to Take You Higher," with Gorman moving to maracas and Chris Robinson belting out backing vocals and adding harmonica to the latter. It brought the TTB set to a fiery close -- and only hinted at what was to come later.

The night's real blowout came after the Crowes' set, a hit-heavy 80 minutes that featured epic, extended arrangements of "Wiser Time" (somewhat rambling) and "Thorn in My Pride" (dynamically triumphant) and in particular showcased new guitarist Jackie Greene, who was given a wide berth to solo throughout and also added mandolin on "She Talks to Angels." After finishing with "Jealous Again," the Crowes hosted a 35-minute encore that brought all 20 of the tour's musicians on stage for spirited -- and impressively organized -- renditions of Eric Clapton's "Don't Know Why," Joe Cocker's "Space Captain," Ray Charles' "Let's Go Get Stoned," Joe Tex's "Show Me" and Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Turn On Your Love Light," with Trucks laying out more slide solos and Chris Robinson and Tedeschi trading lead vocals.

There was genuine emotion on stage as the musicians embraced following the last notes, and it was clear to all that they meant their declarations that it had been their collective favorite tour ever.

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