NEW YORK Former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and
roots-rockers the Black Crowes played blues standards, Crowes songs and
a whole lotta Zeppelin together Tuesday as their joint U.S. tour opened
at the Roseland Ballroom.
Page, who in the '70s cultivated a reputation as an unapproachable
guitar god, seemed relaxed and friendly in his onstage interactions with
the Crowes, even as he awed the crowd with the riffs of such classic-rock
radio staples as "Heartbreaker" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "What Is and What Should Never Be."
"That was like seeing Led Zeppelin that's how I felt," Frankie
Coppola, 22, of Long Island said after the nearly two-hour show.
Crowes singer Chris Robinson did his part in re-creating the Zeppelin
sound, belting out high notes in close emulation of the style of Robert
Plant, although his fey stage presence was worlds apart from Plant's
macho '70s poses.
The Crowes, who have been accused by critics of aping such bands as the
Faces and the Rolling Stones, formed themselves into a credible facsimile
of Led Zeppelin for the evening. Drummer Steve Gorman followed the
big-bottomed beats of late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and the band
sounded like a heavier beast than ever before on such Zeppelin classics
as "The Lemon Song."
The Crowes seemed positively gleeful to be sharing a stage with Page.
The entire band turned to watch him with rapt attention as he played a
revved-up version of his unaccompanied solo to "Heartbreaker."
"This is my favorite part of the evening on guitar, Jimmy Page,"
Robinson said during the band introductions.
Page also seemed to be a fan of the Crowes. He grinned broadly and shook
his head to the beat as he played the rhythm parts of such Crowes staples
as "Remedy" (RealAudio
excerpt) and, for an encore, their hit cover of Otis Redding's
"Hard to Handle" (RealAudio
excerpt of Black Crowes version). With Page on board, the latter
song hit with more force and less groove than usual.
The Crowes and Page celebrated their mutual roots with several rocked-up
blues covers, including Elmore James' "Shake Your Moneymaker," the source
of the title for the Black Crowes' 1990 debut album. Though Page laid
down the gauntlet in that song with squealing, fluid blues and rockabilly
riffs, Crowes guitarists Rich Robinson and Audley Freed weren't timid
about responding with solos of their own.
"Your Time Is Gonna Come," another faithful Zeppelin cover, turned the
spotlight on Black Crowes keyboardist Eddie Harsch during the song's
organ intro. Page and the Crowes also paid homage to Page's pre-Zeppelin
band, the Yardbirds, with a version of their "Shapes of Things."
After closing with a dead-on rendition of "Heartbreaker," the Crowes and
Page returned to the stage and launched into Zep's "Hey Hey What Can I
Do," in a version that was looser and less faithful than the evening's
other Zeppelin songs. Chris Robinson let his own phrasing overtake the
familiar Plant reading.
The evening's final song, "Whole Lotta Love" (RealAudio
excerpt), found Page pulling high-pitched wails from a theremin
during a psychedelic breakdown. The band sounded closest to Zeppelin as
it pulled out of that breakdown and into Page's solo section, which he
played almost as exactly as it was recorded.
Avi Saiger, a 24-year-old fan from New York, said the show renewed his
admiration for the Black Crowes. "It makes you appreciate their connections
to classic rock," he said.
After two more shows at Roseland, the Crowes/Page outing is scheduled to
head to Worcester, Mass., for an Oct. 16 show at the Worcester Centrum
and then to Los Angeles for shows Oct. 1819 at the Greek Theatre.
The Black Crowes in January released By Your Side, an album that
marked their return to driving blues rock after two albums that found
them experimenting with psychedelic rock and other styles.