AS A crowd-pleasing encore for a bunch of classic rock fans, you really couldn’t ask for more than a double whammy of top drawer Neil Young.
Rich Robinson has always been quick to doff his cap to the greats of rock’n’roll and the climax to this solo show saw him play crackling versions of Down By The River and Cinnamon Girl.
With his band the Black Crowes now on indefinite hiatus, Robinson has been reluctantly forced centre stage to go it alone and take on the frontman duties usually reserved for his brother Chris. A natural showman Rich is not – nor never pretends to be – preferring to let his guitar playing do the vast majority of the talking.
Blending material from his two solo albums plus a choice of semi-obscure covers, this two-hour set was a rather mixed bag; there were times it all fell flat and tiptoed into muso, noodling self-indulgence.
Early highlights though were the Santana-like fluidity of It’s Not Easy and a cover of early days Fleetwood Mac’s heavy blues Station Man.
A funky version of the Velvet Underground’s What Goes On boasted a crackling solo from Robinson and the slow-burning (ahem) Standing On The Surface Of The Sun made for an anthemic mid-point burst of melody. The Stonesy bar room swagger of Falling Again played to the band’s strengths as did a stomping performance of I Don’t Hear The Sound Of You from his new record Through A Crooked Sun.
Robinson’s bassist Brian Allen tried his best to look interested playing a three-note refrain for the overlong instrumental from Sixties experimental Krautrock band Agitation Free (no, me neither…) and another cover of a track by blues rock heavyweights War dragged, too. Bye Bye Baby also buckled under the weight of excessive soloing.
If you leave the venue after seeing one of the finest guitarist of the last 20 years and a sterling three-piece backing band musing on just what a great songwriter Neil Young is, something must have got lost along the way. Perhaps a smidgeon more showmanship next time please, Rich?