If you’ve never had a chance to see The Black Crowes live, then the next best thing, and then some, was a stirring live performance by The Magpie Salute. The 10-member band served notice they are powerful unit and sonic force to be reckoned with at a recent show at the Fonda Theater on September 13.
Formed in 2016, by Rich Robinson, co-founder of The Black Crowes, a singer/songwriter in his own right and talented guitarist. With only one new original song, in its musical canon to date, “Omission,” with a future double album to be released in the near future, the Magpie Salute performed a number of Black Crowes songs, some covers and material culled from Robinson and singer/guitarist Marc Ford’s solo work during the two-plus-show with straightforward playing and a lot of complex, intricate free-form jams. Sometimes the set dragged and was a bit rambling but mostly inspired. Not one for in-between song banter or conversation with the audience, Robinson let the music speak for itself and do all the talking.
It was a transformative and religious experience for its devoted and enthusiastic fans that have supported the various incarnations/projects over the years. In fact, many co-opted their earthy look, with a decidedly 60s/70s vibe, wearing beaded necklaces, flared jeans, cords and tie-dye t-shirt. Even Chris Robinson’s ghost was flowing around the stage floor of the Fonda. Many concertgoers in the audience had their long hair parted down the middle with long beards. One flashed his CRB (Chris Robinson Brotherhood) t-shirt at Robinson, made a statement of his irritation declaring: “who cares, I’m here to play the songs I wrote, and songs that Marc Ford wrote.”
That is what the audience loved and found pure joy in. They were looking forward to the Robinson and Ford reunion onstage and the guitar interplay they shared with an ensuing chemistry that was combustible and very electric. Plus the hotly anticipated reconnection onstage with bassist Sven Pipien. That was another highlight for fans. It was exciting and heady stuff for diehard devotees to watch firsthand.
With lead singer John Hogg, at the helm of The Magpie Salute, who has gruff, emotive vocal style, he also helped carry on the tradition of the past history surrounding this new band but is helping to usher in a new feel contributing to a new and evolving chapter for the group. Hogg has an own unique flavor as an artist. He possesses a searing urgency as a frontman. There was clearly a divine element at work that was magnetic and captivating onstage. Hogg often dramatically reached his arms high up in the air with his eyes tightly closed, he seemed clearly moved by the spirit of the music. It was as if he summoning sign from the heavens above for enlightenment or confirmation. Hogg needed to look no further than right into the audience who felt that energy and radiated it back with their seal of approval and appreciation for The Magpie Salute who continue to carry the mantle and legacy for guitar-driven hard blues, hard rock and Southern-leaning rock and roll.
Band Members: Rich Robinson, Marc Ford, John Hogg, Sven Pipien, Joe Magistro, Michael Bellar, Nico Bereciartua, Charity White, Adrien Reju, and Katrine Ottosen