As the smell of burning incense and other herbal delights encompassed the air within the Lincoln Theatre, anxious patrons maneuvered themselves into position for the start of the Sunday night service. Making their way on stage, the laid back members of Chris Robinson Brotherhood (CRB) acknowledged the congregation with various head nods and grins as they strapped on guitars and settled in behind their instruments. It was now time to hold on tight and let the magical musical journey commence.
"Leave My Guitar Alone", from their new release Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel, opened the Sunday night jam service and set the tone for an evening filled with mystic soul, cosmic blues, and a psychedelic groove jam that infiltrated one's inner soul. I know most bands prefer not to be labeled, but if I had to describe CRB's vibe to someone not familiar with the California based ensemble, think two parts Grateful Dead, one part The Band, and one part improvisational jam band with mind-blowing psychedelic keyboard effects. While all this sounds quite complicated, it is really not at all and as a matter of fact, the end result is a laid back groove with uncomplicated lyrics about life and the possibilities that lie ahead.
Presiding over the Sunday service were Chris Robinson (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Neal Casal (lead guitar, vocals), Adam MacDougall (keyboards), Tony Leone (drums), and Jeff Hill (bass). Since their formation in 2011, the band has developed a unique cohesiveness throughout the years and the show at the Lincoln validated for me just how "tight" their music has become in a live setting. There is no doubt former Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson is the leader of the band, but the union and Brotherhood formed among the musicians is one of undeniable collaboration with the freedom of each individual to impart their creativity upon the music.
Fortunate enough to be standing 15 feet from the stage or pulpit if you will, the Sunday night service took on another layer of amazing as I was able to observe the antics and expressions of the one and only Adam MacDougall. Sandwiched between keyboards and synthesizers, MacDougall's creativity and spontaneity were on full display as he laid down Parliament-Funkadelic type grooves tinged with kaleidoscopic blues. Watching the eye contact made between lead guitarist Neal Casal and Chris Robinson on the direction they wanted to take each song really demonstrated the chemistry the two have on stage. Like I mentioned previously, Chris Robinson Brotherhood are one tight band.
Highlights from the show included "Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham" (Delaney Bramlett), "Sunday Sound" (Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud), "Shore Power", "One Hundred Days Of Rain", "Star Or Stone", and "Narcissus Soaking Wet". The encore featured an extended jam on a cover of New Riders Of The Purple Sage's "Last Lonely Eagle". Do yourself a favor and the next time Chris Robinson Brotherhood comes to town, don't take my word for it, get off your ass and go check them out for yourself. You will thank me later.