(Eagle Vision, 103 minutes)
BY BILL HOLMES
Luther Dickinson is a
monster. If I had to create one of
those famous tag-line quotes that sum up a release in ten words or less, that
would be it. For as tight as The Black Crowes are, as great as the song
selection is (and mostly as much as I wish I had been basking in the magic at
the Wiltern Theatre in March, 2008), the overwhelming takeaway from watching
this DVD is just how perfectly Luther Dickinson fits into the ensemble. To say
he is the sparkplug in every song would be remiss – he is the fire.
I freely disclose that I rated Warpaint as the Best Album of 2008, but if anything that made me
approach this DVD more critically. As excited as I was to enjoy a live
performance, I also had higher than average expectations. Warpaint Live does not disappoint. If anything, it reinforces how
beautifully the album flows from song to song; the masterful sequencing is
equally credible live. Like the album, “Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution”
starts as a slow burn and accelerates to a thick and enveloping pulse that
finds the Crowes pistol-hot by song’s end.
Chris Robinson is in deep soul mode throughout; standout vocals lift
songs like “Evergreen” and “Locust
Street” to new heights. And if the crowd didn’t get the gospel thrust
of “God’s Got It” from his passionate singing, the Salvation Army drum drove
the point home. The entire set boasted an atmosphere far beyond a normal stage show.
The encores – six songs in all – feature crowd favorites
like “Darling of the Underground Press” and great covers of The Rolling Stones
(“Torn and Frayed”) and Moby Grape (“Hey Grandma”) among others. The lighting
is not the best, but as evidenced by soloists occasionally being outside the
spotlight, that is the fault of the crew, not the transfer. The sound is crisp
and full, with Pipien and Gorman’s solid bottom accentuating Adam MacDougall’s
versatile keyboards and Dickinson’s
tour-de-force fretwork. Slow or fast,
acoustic or electric, this edition of The Black Crowes is masterful. Perhaps
the ghost of The Faces once hung in the air, lately a whiff of The Allman
Brothers’ spirit might be detected, but this is a deep and honest legacy being
created in front of us.
Special Features: none.