The Black Crowes’ First London Show: The Marquee, 1990

the-black-crowes-shake-your-money-maker $hake

The Marquee Club, London. June 1990. I was there to see a band I had only ever read about, who were on the tiny stage just three feet in front of me, lean as rakes, hungrily playing up a storm on their debut UK show. The band was The Black Crowes and they had released their debut album, $hake Your Money Maker earlier that year.

The Marquee had grown weary of its place in Wardour Street and had taken itself off 500 yards to the east in Charing Cross Road. * I was there because Kerrang! had tipped them for greatness and I did everything Kerrang! told me to do back then, including buying an album by D’Molls, which turned out to be pretty terrible. Yet, like a beaten puppy I would return, ever hopeful of better treatment…

Kerrang! told me The Black Crowes were a new American band who sounded like The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. To be fair so did every other rock band back then, at least if they had any sense, given the success of both, and of Guns n Roses. Indeed a flock of bands matching that description had all since sprung up sporting ripped jeans, bandanas and sneers, including Faster Pussycat, Sea Hags, Salty Dog, LA Guns et al..

Given that my favourite band at the time was the aforementioned Aerosmith, The Black Crowes sounded like a good bet. Furthermore, I was just beginning to discover this little-known band called The Rolling Stones. Hey, don’t look at me like that, the Stones never got played on the radio. You’d only ever hear “Satisfaction” at the end of the school disco just before “Hi Ho Silver Lining” and I had to buy the “Rolled Gold” compilation to hear deeper cuts** like “19th Nervous Breakdown” and “Little Red Rooster” for the first time… *** Whilst I found out about the show after reading the listing in Kerrang! I only had enough cash for either the show, or the album.

london_marquee_wardour-st

I chose the show, hoping I’d enjoy the gig enough to then want to buy the album when pay day finally condescended to come around again and refill the coffers.

Here’s what I remember about the night:

1. In one respect, things were better in the eighties than they are now – getting gig tickets was much easier. One of the nice things about The Marquee aside from its intimacy was that you couldn’t normally buy tickets in advance, so as long as you turned up early enough you could get in. There was no mad scramble – and no usury booking fees.

2. Their best song – and the reason I bought the album was not their later hit single “She Talks To Angels”, it was “Thick ‘n Thin” – a fast boogie from the debut album with a similar tempo to The Stones’ “Rip This Joint”.

3. They played a Brian Ferry song “Jealous Guy”, which I thought was an odd – but good – cover. I didn’t realise it was a John Lennon song. My lack of knowledge was typical of the time. I would have killed for a Spotify account back then.

4. Hard To Handle was another highlight. I didn’t know it was an Otis Redding song. See above.

5. It was a great show, and I bought $hake Your Money Maker (on cassette) as soon as I could.

I marked The Black Crowes down as ones to watch. I little realised then that as Grunge wiped away many a Les Paul-botherer – especially those with cigarettes hanging from the corners of their mouths, The Black Crowes would be one band that would hang in there – and actually get better…

* The Marquee in Wardour St had to close down in 1988 after more than 30 years of vibrations from loud music were found to have made the facade of the building slip towards the pavement and the building had to be demolished. That’s how good the Marquee was: in the end the music literally shook the place to its foundations.

** For “deeper cuts” read “anything that wasn’t Satisfaction”.

*** A month after this Black Crowes gig I got to see the Stones at Wembley Stadium – whilst in another stadium in Rome England were knocked out of the World Cup.

Footnote: I found $hake Your Money Maker on LP a month or so back in great condition for just £3. It’s still a great record.



Categories: Hard Rock

Tags: , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. i saw them on that tour too..in belfast…i always remember that bass player ‘colt’ or whatever his name was spitting all the time…apparently chris rahhhbinson married goldie hawns daughter, and she was non too pleased.that was a great debut,recorded super quickly and all the better for it.i love that slow song’seeing things..the lovely hammond n’all.

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  2. Allow me please to express happiness for you that you got to see them so early on, and also my jealousy that you got to see them so early on. I’ve seen them several times, but the earliest was for Three Snakes. I had the records, but the gigs came later.

    Also, your vinyl score was amazing – a decent-but-not-great copy on Discogs is 30 euros. Seriously, if you see another one cheap like that (or any other cheap Crowes vinyls) I WANTS IT THE PRECIOUSSSSSS.

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  3. Ed Hawrysch was a great keyboard player, before the Crowes he was in James Cotton’s Blues Band.

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  4. Caught em when they played my hometown July of 1993.
    Fantastic band kicked me in the ass with the opener No Speak No Slave and they were off an running.
    Fords solo in Sometimes Salvation is just plain out sick….one of the best of there’s…..
    BUT….
    Super cool u caught em in a club on the Money Maker tour. Was supposed to see em open for ZZ Top but they got punted off the tour when Robinson went off about corporate sponsorship !
    Hahaha….from that they probably sold another million copies of Moneymaker in the U.S!

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  5. One of my favourite bands (even though I haven’t much enjoyed the last couple of records). I caught them at Glasgow’s QMU during the Sho Nuff tour in 98. They were pretty magic that night, with even the new stuff sounding marvellous.

    While I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a copy of Shake Your Moneymaker, I hope that there’ll be vinyl reissues of The Southern Harmony & The Musical Companion and Amorica. They’re all-timers.

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    • I’m with you on that. I have never seen a copy of either, save for on eBay. Amorica goes for big bucks. Southern less so, but still not cheap enough for me to be able to buy one.

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      • Yeah, you have to draw a line somewhere.

        I missed a copy of Southern a couple of months ago (last minute miss – ouch!) and I’d actually looked at 2 copies of Amorica on eBay recently, too. One going for over £50 and the other over £60.

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