“I like the Crowes and I like that sound – that’s been my body of work for 25 years.”
So said Rich Robinson in an exclusive interview with this very website just a few weeks prior to his latest tour of the UK. During the same conversation he explained, rather wistfully, that it would have been fitting to mark the 25th anniversary of Shake Your Moneymaker but there were, in fact, no plans in place for any special celebration.
It’s bizarre, then, that there wasn’t a whiff of the Crowes during Robinson’s Newcastle set. No hint of the band’s hit-laden back catalogue. Not so much as a mere nod to Robinson’s glorious past in one of the world’s great rock n roll collectives.
Now, of course, this was billed as a Rich Robinson Band show. There was no promise of any Crowes music and only the very real prospect of some seriously impressive guitar wizardry. Ultimately, though, the latter just wasn’t enough.
There were few complaints and only the odd pocket of dissent. Yet there’s no doubt a disappointingly dull show would have benefitted from some kind of take on Jealous Again, She Talks To Angels or Too Hard To Handle.
Dull? Not according to those who received every fresh song with a whoop of delight and a holler of appreciation. Yet the Robinson faithful were clearly blinded by their hero’s commanding presence and technical proficiency – what The Cluny witnessed was a masterclass in musicianship, rather than a rock n roll show.
As the night dragged on it became clear that this irritating excuse for gig was no more than a self-centred jam. Robinson introduced the show by explaining he was ‘going to play a few songs’ – what he failed to mention was that he would play them one after another without uttering a word to his audience.
Nobody expected a stand-up routine from the more introverted of the Robinson brothers but a smile of acknowledgement and more than a word or two of thanks wouldn’t have gone amiss. It really wouldn’t.
To compound the feeling that there was no connection between performer and crowd, Robinson did enjoy frequent banter with his fellow band members – almost always failing to share the joke. But let’s face it – it probably wasn’t that funny anyway.
The music – whether from Robinson’s superb new record The Ceaseless Sight or culled from an earlier era – was predictably proficient throughout. Closing the main set with the surreal Inside and the affecting Trial And Faith should have been triumphal and yet, despite the power and passion underpinning both songs, there was only a sense of relief that the end was nigh.
Robinson comfortably reinforced his reputation as a musical master par excellence and there were brief, brilliant moments when being in the presence of greatness was enough. Sadly there were too many meandering passages that would have tested the patience of a saint.
The Ceaseless Sight remains one of RUSHONROCK’s albums of the year. This was more like the ceaseless night.