In these days of escalating touring expenses, and of feuding band members, the format of the one-man show grows ever more widespread. Such performances can be revealing, though this depends on the artist’s communication skills.
Alas, away from the Black Crowes, Rich Robinson lacks the gregariousness of his brother Chris, and his pre-tour promise of “insight into the way that I write, which is on an acoustic guitar” arrives without verbal explanation of those same songs.
It’s a solid, honest and yet ultimately underwhelming experience. Robinson’s solo songs carry an air of sedate gravity, but what they lack so pointedly is any feeling of excitement. The strapping on of an electric guitar for Blackwaterside, the Bert Jansch/Led Zeppelin-popularised folk classic, provides welcome mid-set relief, and his covers of Buffalo Springfield, Dylan, the Velvet Underground and Little Feat are dispatched with the expected proficiency of an artist who has sold millions of records.
Robinson had also warned that the only Crowes songs he would perform were his own, and sure enough an encore delivers two obscure selections (Warpaint’s Oh Josephine and What Is Home? from Before The Frost… Until The Freeze), though it isn’t the set-list that rankles. Robinson isn’t one of life’s great orators, but a little more effort would have transformed an ordinary show into a decent one.