Chris Robinson has a voice that is very distinct and easily distinguishable no matter what capacity he is singing. I grew up listening to The Black Crows but they broke up years ago, so in order to treat my ears to his infectious voice I choose Chris’s other long-standing project The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. They played a two night, sold out stint on February 2-3, 2018 at The State Room in Salt Lake City, Utah. The venue is intimate and upon arrival the first thing I noticed was the smell of incense. Upon reaching the stage, I noticed it was covered with old Persian type rugs and smoke machines had been replaced with incense burners. The stage was also decorated with an odd assortment of decorations. A plastic unicorn adorned a guitar amp. An owl decoy had been turned into an incense holder. As the band took their positions on stage the fairly quiet crowd grew louder in anticipation of the show. The Brotherhood opened the show with a cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Ready.” Having never seen The Chris Robinson Brotherhood live, it soon became evident; the whole night was as much of a jam session as it was a scripted show. Of course there was a set list, but all it took was one subtle look from front man Chris, and said band members would take over with an amazing instrumental Jam. One of the best Jams of the night was easily when keyboardist’s Adam MacDougall set the ivory on fire during the band’s first set. Surrounded on all sides by keys, Adam’s bluesy, rock infused sound reminded me of Ray Manzarek of The Doors. The jam was so unique and at times I wondered if he knew when he would end himself.
The second set was as fun as the first and included covers as well as original material. It began with The Rolling Stone’s “Loving Cup,” and grooved into “Venus in Chrome,” a The Chris Robinson Brotherhood original. As the evening continued individual Jams randomly sparked up but eventually the show had to come to and end. The encore song was a “Positively 4th Street,” a Bob Dylan cover, which sounded better than the original.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood experience was incredible. I can’t say enough about the camaraderie as the band played their sets. Each member embraced the opportunity to give the other the spot light. From an outsiders perspective one might assume that Chris Robinson was the focal point of the band, but he was far from it. In fact there were many times when Chris himself became one of us as he watched his fellow band members take the lead on their respected instrument. It is easy to see why The Chris Robinson Brotherhood sells out wherever they play. Their style of music draws you in but doesn’t give you a chance to get out, and as a result you feel like a part of the brotherhood.