Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes
Worcester Centrum, October 16, 1999
October 16, 1999 ~ Worcester Centrum
By Steve Morse, Globe Staff, 10/18/99
WORCESTER - A pair of Led Zeppelin alumni were on the loose this weekend. First came John Paul Jones's masterful instrumental boogie at the Paradise, then the more gut-busting boogie of Jimmy Page with the Black Crowes in Worcester, joined by Aerosmith's Joe Perry for a couple of songs that sent air guitarists to heaven and beyond.
If you caught both shows, then you know the greatness that Page and Jones still bring to the stage. It's a shame they're not playing together anymore - Jones wasn't invited on the Zep-rooted Page and Plant tours - but at least they gave Zep fans a special treat, and more memories, this weekend.
Any brain cells left out there? Well, probably not if you caught the Page/Crowes slamfest at the Worcester Centrum Centre (attended by 11,500 fans) on Saturday. This was a hammer-down night of guitar-crunch from the start. Page has joined the rebel-rocking Crowes for just a three-city tour, but it's his way of returning to his acid-blues roots with a vengeance. The Crowes rock hard, but Page went further by schooling them with an edgy ferocity that, along with an outstanding effort by Crowes singer Chris Robinson (emulating Robert Plant's banshee wailing), evoked serious memories of an early Led Zeppelin show.
The song list was 75 percent Zeppelin - more than anticipated. And there was no slack to be found. How about these Zeppelin segues: the lacy ''In My Time of Dying'' into ''Your Time I s Gonna Come'' (with a soulful Hammond B3 line from the Crowes' Eddie Harsch); and a slashing ''Nobody's Fault But Mine'' into a punkish ''Heartbreaker'' to end the main set.
Need more? How about for encores the mandolin-flecked ''Hey, Hey, What Can I Do'' into the erotic ''Whole Lotta Love'' and the famed Zep cover of ''You Shook Me'' (with Perry making his first appearance, sporting his newly coiffed GQ haircut, though it obviously hasn't changed his low-down-and-dirty guitar sound). And then a show-ending romp through ''Oh Well'' (penned by early Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green), which found Page and Perry duel ing toe-to-toe in a blistering battle that went on and on into the stratosphere. (I had seen Page and Perry jam once at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event, but never with this intensity.) They jousted on rhythm, they swapped leads, and they and the crowd were completely drained at the end.
Page was out the whole night with the Crowes - and it was like adding TNT to an already combustible mix. Page lent guitar heft to several Crowes tunes (''Remedy'' blazed forth, as did their cover hit of Otis Redding's ''Hard to Handle''). Other covers during this tumultuous night: the low-fi funk of Little Walter's ''Mellow Down Easy'' and Elmore James's synapse-shredding ''Shake Your Moneymaker.'' Whew. If you're a rock fan and missed this show, then hang your head and cry.
At the Paradise on Friday, Jones displayed his continued expertise, though this was just his first solo tour. To chants of ''Jonesy'' and ''J.P.,'' he crisply delved into tracks from his well-named new instrumental CD, ''Zooma,'' aided by Chapman stick player Nick Beggs, who added otherworldly sounds.
Jones switched effortlessly from bass and pedal steel to a custom, triple-necked guitar used during a polyrhythmic, bluegrassy number. Oh yes, and he did three Zep tunes: ''No Quarter,'' ''Trampled Under Foot,'' and a magnificent ''Black Dog.'' There was no Page in sight, but Jones showed that he doesn't need him or anyone else to sustain his brilliance.
This story ran on page C01 of the Boston Globe on 10/18/99.