Tag Archives: Rich Robinson

Album of week 32: AMORICA

Right now if you were seeing me on a webcam or some other face to face device, not only i’d look a bit ugly and exhausted thanks to the heat of the summer and the fuckin’ peak season at work, with lots of incidences and shit putting my patience and professionalism into a test, but leaving my physical state, my face would reflect some astonishment as a consequence of being surfing my own blog looking for albums of The Black Crowes commented, to realize only Three Snakes and One Charm and Shake your Money Maker had been cited. Not that I’m a Crowemaniac but I’ve been following the Robinson bros’ career quite close.

amorica

This time I feel like talking about Amorica, an album that, due to some factors and events , has turned into a very deared piece. I’ve been listening to it very often these past days as I find that any record of the Crowes has some elements which make them perfect for summer. They are warm yet fresh, with lots of groove, and they always give the good vibes. Honestly, I feel happy whenever I listen to them and my mood gets excellent.

I’ve always thought Amorica marked a change from the previous albums and it also meant the definition of what The Black Crowes were, and what they were looking for. The way songs were written, with their structures, their extended length and the way they were played, one had the feeling of being listening to a live album. They were able to create that wonderful hippie atmosphere for people to break free, get loose, and experiment the joy of music. Rock wasn’t a pose anymore for them, and they were committed to spread music as the perfect medicine for all.

You might be thinking I’m on acid, but it’s been almost 18 years since the last (light) trip. Ha!

If you had attended their Amorica tour show in Zaragoza in July 1995 at the main park in an open air “amphitheatre”, you’d understand what I’m saying. That show was as if the band was in the living room, including lots of jam parts in the set. They didn’t even play ‘Conspiracy’. Most of the audience expected something different, song oriented, and those jams had a different impact on people. I particularly enjoyed the show even though I was flipping a bit observing Chris Robinson playing percussion thinking the guy was high in the sky, as his smile never abandoned his face. I guess we weren’t yet prepared nor educated to face a show like that one, moreover, since then their shows are more focused in recovering their classic hits rather than experimenting or improvising.

The Black Crowes

I bought a Japanese digipack copy of this album when I visited Japan. He (urgh) had his copy and was all the time complaining and wondering where his digipack copy bought in Paris was, and when I found mine he told me not to buy it, as he had his own CD and at that time we were meant to share everything. But I was determined to have my own copy, so I got it. unfortunately at some point during our divorce my CD remained with his stuff and I lost it, like lots of stuff I never recovered. I thought at some point we would behave like adults so I would recovered my things, but some time ago I came to the conclusion that after 4 years there was no point in claiming anything, plus I don’t need to approach him at all.

The wonders of friendship made I told this last story to Arantza and Paula, my favorite sisters and old friends since high school, reckoning I would eventually have a new copy of Amorica. I love giving them music as presents, or suggesting bands and albums, because they usually apply themselves seriously and are very appreciative, and it’s great to introduce good friends to music you’re fond of. But it was their time to give me something back, so being really busy at work, Mr Postman came to my office and asked for me. I wasn’t expecting anything, especially because these months I’m quite short of dough after festivals and summer social life. whn I opened the envelop and saw Amorica was inside, and there was a pink note from my friends, I got really moved and dropped a little tear, feeling the luckiest person on Earth for having such great people by my side.

So now I got my Amorica to play anytime I want, and this has been the album of the week. Some people regard it as a minor work, but considering it includes ‘Wiser Time’ and ‘Gone’, I can tell you this is one of their greatest works.

Every time I listen to The Black Crowes I have the same thought:  the world would be much worse if they didn’t exist. God bless!

LAST SHOW OF 2012: RICH ROBINSON

Last night I attended the last show of the year. I couldn’t foresee it’d be Rich Robinson the performer, considering I flew to Amsterdam to see him on stage. But life’s full of surprises, and there he was, right in front of me and about 200 people, at the best venue in town, Bikini.

Rich had already played live in Spain at a festival, but most audience didn’t get quite satisfied. I knew that was gonna happen. One hour is not enough for the kind of setlist combining songs with jamming he usually plans, and seems that they were starting to warm up when it was time to finish.

Probably this was one of the reasons Bikini wasn’t too crowded, playing in Spain 6 months earlier meant a toll.

People complain about his lack of presence and charisma as a frontman. To start with, Robinson is mainly a guitarist, and actually a great one. The feeling and class he has when playing, his amazing skills when using the slide are worth enjoying and observing. I remember his huge hands shocked me in Amsterdam. It happened the same last night.

Rich Robinson

He left his Gretsch’s at home this time and played another 5 guitars, among them a white SG Gibson, and the rest were these James Trussart’s custom guitars. Stunning pieces, by the way.

He’s really a shy guy, do not interact with audience that much and has this strong complicity with keyboard player, Steve Molitz, who is just the opposite, a very histrionic guy, passionate, wide smiling and pure nerve. Observing the way they were interacting, Rich needed Molitz to reassure himself on stage.

The rest of the band seem to be super comfy on stage. Mr Crabman, Joe Magistro, on drums, provides a solid rhythmic part together with Brian Allen, and the arrangements of Dan Wistrom, who usually plays with Jonny Kaplan in the US, with pedal steel are fabulous.

Dan Wistrom

Set list changed from the show I had attended in February. Opening was quite similar, with Gone Away, Station Man , It’s Not Easy and marvelous Lost and Found. I missed Standing at the Surface of The Sun, which was quite an allegorical time in Amsterdam, but it was balanced with the epic jam of War Drums, again being the closing song for the show. Truth is that length was reduced, but still audience could enjoy was a Rich Robinson show had to be, and the impressions were very positive in general. Everybody, including those who got disappointed at the festival, was quite happy with the show, forgiving the fact that Rich is not a great frontman. I don’t care, I wasn’t looking for a copy of his brother, nor any David Lee Roth. I was expecting to enjoy the performance of a guy who wrote such an intimate album as Through A Crooked Sun, thus I didn’t want any histrionic behavior from his side. It met my expectations again.

steve molitz

Thus, with Rich Robinson, my live shows period has come to an end, at least in 2012. Can’t complain, I’ve attended approx 50 shows, 4 of them being festivals including several performances. I’ve won some tickets in contests, such as Rancid, Lee Fields or Rich Robinson, I’ve been invited by some promoters such as Teenage Head Music and On The Road, and Orange Goblin got me a couple of freebies to attend their show at Sonisphere, so definitely I have no complaints at the end of the day. Hopefully I will post my list of shows this year. Very good stuff, and great bands on the road. Again,  2012 has been an excellent year in music. Great!

FINAL CHAPTER – THE EVENING RICH MET TOI

The final chapter of Toi goes to Amsterdam. Sorry to disappoint those who expected a stoner tale of epic psychotropic  events, but I publicly admit, weed is not my drug of choice, I quitted smoking hashish when I got widowed (with the exception of half joint one day shocked by the first episode of the reality show featuring Alaska and Mario), and I feel too much respect and fear towards the universe of mushrooms after my late teenage experiences with acid. To sum up, I don’t dig downers nor feel like opening the doors of my perception anymore.

The Amsterdam experience was worth living, mainly for the great quality moments shared with my friend Sofia, who, poor girl, was super busy and made a huge effort and sacrifice to spend some time with me, and for an epic Sunday night. I’m so glad I made it, despite my sad financial situation!

I’m trying to convince Xavi, the guy who started inciting me to buy tickets, to go to London, but he’s too busy now and has planned some other shows also implying traveling, and has given up on poor Rich. Xavi, DON’T BE A CUNT AND GO TO LONDON, I do command you!

Ok, stop the madness and let’s focus on last Sunday evening.

I had been most of the day walking, went to FOAM first, and I finally found some vinyls worth adding to my collection, one, Gluecifer’s Basement Apes at a Skate Oulet store, the other three at a recommended store named Recordfriend. I didn’t have much time nor money, so I spent few time there. Very good stuff but not cheap at all.

By the time I met  Sofia, 8PM, the streets were empty already, and it was freezin’ cold as fuck. We still had time enough for a beer for warming up before the show, so she took me to this Coffee Shop name The Doors, which was pretty cool inside.

As far as I know Coffee Shops are not my kind of place either, because you cannot drink alcohol in most of them. That’s nonsense. You wanna get high? Beers should be compulsory, not tea! At least we got beer served at The Doors joint, and the smell of weed was bearable, music was pretty cool and it was a quite calm place. We both liked it.

The supporting artist opening for Rich Robinson, an Irish guy named Dave O’Grady, was playing the first chords, just when we entered Bitterzoet. We paid attention and tried to like his stuff, but, despite he had a very nice voice (and the guy was hot), he didn’t convince us at all, his set was to quiet and boring, and wasn’t very passionate. This is something that can happen when you play in acoustic, it requires you an extra effort to have the audience amused enough as to concentrate in your stuff. If you are not convincing nor stunning, people will eventually lose interest and buzz will invade the venue.

During his performance, a guy from my hometown, we all call Vampire, turned up, so we were the 3 happy Spanish gang, ready for Rich Robinson.

The venue, Bitterzoet, was sold out that night, we’d be attending the show no more than 200-250 people, and the place was very small with many different levels, which helped to create a warm and friendly atmosphere.

It’s been too many years I’ve been attending rock shows and at a glance I found the best spot to see the show waiting to be occupied by our presence. I was barely 2m far from Rich, at his same height, thus I had access to his foot switches and pedals, his set lists, I could observe anything he was moving, and somehow, when playing awesome solo guitars I was kind of this escape point, serious. The funny thing was that I was so happy and with a permanent wide smile, poor guy, whenever he was coming back to reality he was seeing me, and sometimes he couldn’t help laughing.

Yes, the show. I don’t really know where to start. I already wrote a proper review for serious purposes but this is an extension of my life, thus I don’t feel the need to be super accurate with the set list, which was changed right at the end of the show. I want to talk about my personal experience, and how that cold night I felt happiness for real, glad and thankful for loving rock and music in such a passionate way, these moments, which would be recorded in my memory for good, still bring out my most intense feelings and provide unrivalled satisfaction and pleasure. Anything is worth doing when there’s such a reward involved.

Set list was mainly focused on Rich Robinson’s last album released, Through a Crooked Sun. Just to refresh your memory, I claimed it to be my favorite 2011, and already commented about it weeks ago.

The four warm-up songs he started with, were in my opinion the most direct ones in the night: It’s not Easy, Station Man, Lost and Found (personal anthem), and Falling Again.

The band sounded perfect, pretty solid and close as a unit, and chemistry among the band members was amazing. You could feel they were enjoying on stage, keeping an eye on each other constantly, although it wasn’t necessary.

You can imagine the audience was excited and totally devoted to the band, although, as usual, some inappropriate requests for some Crowes’ stuff were heard. C’mon! He’s supporting his solo album! Let him do his set and in case he’s in the mood, which obviously wasn’t, he0ll play something. This pisses me off sometimes, really.

Anyway, after the warming up, the band attacked the core of the show, creating  awesome psychedelic atmospheres, playing with Not-so-improvised-jams, bringing us back to 70’s progressive rock, and driving us to a state of bliss, difficult to put into words. Standing at the Surface of the Sun, and Hey Fear were absolute magic.

From time to time I was checking on both Sofia and Vampire, and they were as stunned and fascinated as I was.  You know when you have to get down to Earth to check whether you’re experiencing is for real or just a dream? It wasn’t, the whole venue was kind of high.

The show lasted more than two hours, and we were especially delighted with two of the encore songs, which were covers. On one hand an acoustic She, by Gram Parsons, and the wonderful Cinnamon Girl. The closing song, War Drums, was a 13minute jam, which left us speechless.

Being at the best spot in the venue was a win, and I had to approach the possibilities to the utmost.

Rich was really in good mood, so was the keyboard player, Steve Molitz, a very cool and enthusiastic guy, who offered a brilliant performance. Interaction with the audience was constant, Rich surprisingly overcoming his featured shyness. Thus, I being right by his side, of course didn’t miss the chance to make some comments. Believe me if I tell you I told them I had come from Spain just to see them, and their fans were very disappointed they hadn’t made it to our country. Rich complained it was a matter of local promoters, and that they love Spain, thus I threatened to hire them. When Rich asked me whether they could crush at my place, you can imagine the instant reply  😉

After talking to some people regarding the band fees, I tell you one thing, I’d go for it and positive, won’t fail.

I had the CD waiting for Rich to sign up, and as soon as the show finished, a girl anticipated and gave him a pen to sign her copy, so I asked him if he could do the same with mine. Not only he did, but also requested me to give him his set list I’d got a minute earlier, so he signed it up too. And because sometimes I feel so self confident and I had nothing to lose, I also asked him for a guitar pick…and rather than giving me a new one, he gave me the he’d been using the whole show. Finally, he came close to me, and whispered in my ear “we’re coming to Spain in summer, we’re playing in Mallorca”.

Everything happened really quick, but there I was, feeling the luckiest girl in the world, dreaming awake, and grabbing my little treasures completely delighted. The mission was accomplished, we witnessed a lesson of professionalism and grace, a dose of high class and elegance, and were reminded of what PERFECTION really means.

Absolutely Awesome!!!

I found some videos from this show. You can try to find Wally (aka Toi).

CHAPTER I – SIBERIAN COLD WAVE, FLIGHT DELAYS, PERROFLAUTAS AND TURBULENCE

I’m already back in Barcelona after a 3-day break in Amsterdam to visit my friend Sofia and attend Rich Robinson’s gig on Sunday the 5th.

I’ve been writing down my experiences in pieces of paper, because no matter how many notebooks I buy, I always forget them when needed. The only inconvenience was that internet access was super restricted, and even more to a laptop, thus I couldn’t be updating as planned.

Therefore, and because I don’t want my notes to end up in a box or turning into garbage, allow me to write some chapters of my visit, as if this was a short tale, ok?

So there we go…

Finally the day arrived. Never been to Amsterdam, and the plan of spending a weekend here, hosted by Sofia, and also attending the show of Rich Robinson sounded like a perfect plan, don’t you think?

I had been worried about the Siberian cold wave coming to Spain, and also affecting Barcelona. Still recalling the last time snow caught us by surprise, especially me, who had to carry my motorbike more than 2km upwards for being too strong headed and thinking I could make my way home despite the snow… ha! But that’s another story included in my book of biggest stupidities in human behavior. Anyway, my biggest fear was due to snow there were flight cancellations. Alert status this time, was exaggerated. Truth is that temperatures dropped brutally, but snow was more people’s demanding expectation rather than a reality, not sure why, guess people are too bored.

What I didn’t expect was a massive snow storm hitting Amsterdam, nor my flight forced to be delayed due to such weather adversities over there.

Waiting inside a plane is one of the most uncomfortable things that can happen, too warm and dry atmosphere, plus the 2 passengers next to me, 2 fuckin’ perroflautas in their 20’s, at their most bothering type. Thank God I had the Ipod, and the phone to be amused the hour and a half we had to be stopped, otherwise I’d turn rude.

Yes, Internet, I admit it, I’m a surfing rat. I have to check out any new social network which might be interesting, and if it is, I suck it dry. It’s a fact, since I’m on my own, I make much moe use of these, and perhaps I’m an addict, but I’m a learning addict, who also  gets acquainted with new stuff and new people from all around the world, don’t think it’s so wrong at the end of the day.

Thus, during this hour and a half, I informed Sofia on the delay, greeted a friend through a private conversation, TT’d, made jokes on flutedogs and took a picture. Addict or not addict, with the mobile, this time passed in a flash.

On a different subject, please let me tell you what a perroflauta/flutedog type is, in case you’re not acquainted with this label. Politics aside, although it’s to be remarked their extreme left wing trend, they reckon to belong to anti-everything movements. I’d say, generally speaking, and please note my joking tone, approx 98% are into dope smoking. Despite their public hatred towards consumerism, a huge percentage of them owns not only mobile phones, but BB’s Iphone’s, Mac products, and I’m not talking about clothes, because that is ridiculous. Too much pose I find in them. I know, sometimes I’m zero tolerant, and haven’t been in contact with this people for long time, but this couple, they pissed me off the whole flight. At the end of the day, I don’t give a shit about the world around me as long as I can live my life without being bothered.

My thoughts on the perroflautas have been suddenly interrupted and erased after passing a heavy metal turbulence area. We’ve jumped, a lot, I swear. Listening to Lost and Found by Rich Robinson, one of my personal favorites, they’ve been the most exciting 2 minutes I’ve experienced lately. People nervous and uncomfortably smiling and staring at others aiming to show (false) calm and temper, believe me when I tell you there’s been a moment we were all shitting on our pants. I might be a bit morbid on this regard, because I thought what I was listening wasn’t a so bad soundtrack to die with, and memories of that classic scene of the plane from Almost Famous came to my mind.

SPAIN DOES NOT ROCK

A couple of days ago I was full of anger and rage because of so many bands missing Spain when touring Europe due to promoters’ not taking the risk nor finding them worth playing in the country.

As a music lover it’s really frustrating when reading bands announcements and you don’t read Spain on their dates.

I moved to Barcelona more than 7 years under the main pretense of attending as many gigs as possible, because my hometown, right between Madrid and Barcelona, had one of the poorest musical agendas ever. Of course there were other reasons, job opportunities, the big city… but you know, after living in London all this night gig city life is what I wanted for myself.

Barcelona doesn’t rock. It’s painful to admit it, but it’s the absolute truth. Rock clubs and bars are closing, record stores are a dangerous species, and thanks to small venues and promoters, we’re still able to enjoy some shows. But when it comes the stage of established bands, with high booking fees, Spain all of a sudden becomes the North of Africa (with all due respect to the continent).

We are experiencing a crab backwards step in terms of shows. Now it’s more painful because we’re aware of it thanks to the media. It’s fun to arrange a flash trip to some other city to see a band, but it’s an effort after all.

Don’t think I’ll get to see Tom Petty in June 2012 unfortunately. We all Spanish fans were touching this possibility with the tip of our fingers, but dates slipped away and the only chance to see him is overseas.  I can’t afford it right now.

Same happens with Rich Robinson. He ain’t coming no matter  he loves Spain.

My friend Xavi is a Black Crowes diehard fan, and he told me he’d bought tickets for his show in London in February at ridiculous price. I thought I couldn’t make it. I felt frustrated. But the poor and wasted light bulb I still got in my head, sparked once again. On Friday morning at work, sorry if this is not professional, but sometimes temptation strikes so hard, you have to yield, I started checking his European tour dates once again, calmly. And there it was, Amsterdam. That was my target.

And why Amsterdam? Believe me it’s not for getting stoned purposes, I don’t smoke joints anymore and never been a weed fan. Could use a muffin though, hahaha. No, serious. One of my best friends, Sofia, has just moved there. She was pushing for me to move my ass to see her and approach the trip including a rock show in our agendas. Rich Robinson sees the perfect schoice: we both love the Crowes, she’s finished her exams, and the gig is on Sunday. We got a full weekend to spend together, she can show me the city, and we’ll share 72h of long chats, laughs, bitching and gossiping.

No discussion, as soon as she ok’d the plan, bought everything, super cheap. I can’t be happier. Closing this wonderful year with such a great plan for February makes me think 2012 is also being a blast.

Thus this is my self Xmas present, which eventually has become my parents’. We’re getting practical, and as I told them my plan my dad said he didn’t want to give me something useless or typical, and preferred paying the flight and the show tickets, so they knew for sure that would make me happy. How cool is that, huh?

It’s great some of these shows are affordable, and the trip to Amsterdam with my friend Sofia hosting me is really exciting, but let’s not miss  the point. We got an acute problem here: on one hand promoters don’t risk, their only possibility is including certain bands in high budget festivals; crisis is starting to get noticed even in this field because, compared to other countries rates, we’ve been paying abusive fees for the shows; and last, people request  bands to come, but at the end of the day attendance average is a shame.

I’m not proud to say, SPAIN DOES NOT ROCK.

ALBUM OF WEEK 43 – THROUGH A CROOKED SUN

It’s taken me too long to update the album of the week. Quite weird considering since the first listening I knew it was gonna be the one, and I’d be hooked on it inevitably.

As soon as The Black Crowes took another break, both Robinson brothers continued working on different projects.

The youngest brother had already released a solo album few years ago named Papers. To tell you the truth I’ve probably listened to a couple of songs only. Should get a copy in the future, I guess.

I listened to Through a Crooked Sun by chance, I wasn’t looking for it at all, but felt like giving it a try one of these days you want to listen to something coming directly from the oven.

First thing that really attracted me was Rich’s voice. Not so powerful nor unique as his older brother’s, yet very sweet and calm. He transmits some kind of peace.

The tone of the songs is marked by a sense of intimacy, very evocative and emotional. Of course, his way of composing has resemblance with his work delivered for The Black Crowes, but this is way too personal, as if there was a need to express his personal experience. This is not a hard rock album, but a compilation of songs reflecting Robinson’s state of mind and soul.

As commented, this is not an album created to blow your mind at your first hearing, it’s more like the effect it provokes in your guts. By this I mean, I’m really excited with Through a Crooked Sun and when thinking of best 2011 albums, no doubt this is gonna be on top 5, most likely, but I don’t intend to create exaggerated  expectations on those who might read these lines and feel compelled to listen to it. I might be too passionate, but for one reason or another, this album has honestly impressed me beyond music quality.

We don’t question Rich Robinson as a great musician and guitar player, but he’ll always be overshadowed by his brother’s personality and stage presence. Rich has always been on a side, probably because of his shyness and own personality. I didn’t think of him as lead singer and personal composer, thus I’m feeling delighted these days.

Songs such as Lost and Found, Standing on the Surface of the Sun, Gone Away, Hey Fear… have stolen my heart, making me bend over this wonderful album. Applause!

Now imagine he decided touring at small venues…