The Magpie Salute
Welcome to Rich Robinson’s part-time folk club.
In the upstairs room of one of East London’s less objectionably trendy bars, three men on stools roll back the years. It was always the idealism that the Black Crowes salvaged from the end of the 60s, as much as the Stones and Faces sounds, that made them matter, and tonight that band’s former guitarist Rich Robinson’s new outfit channel the harmonies and reveries of acoustic Crosby, Stills & Nash.
The packed audience are stoked to be sharing this tight space with a Crowe; less so that many can’t see either him or sedentary, core Magpie Salute bandmates Marc Ford and main singer John Hogg.
But without the raucous electric punch of new album High Water, this unplugged Salute rarely soar.
Among the strongly melodic new songs showcased, keyboards and Spanish guitars colour Can You See’s lament for ‘humanity, siphoned off by the virtual stream’. The Crowes’ Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye sees Hogg hit the open-throated, questing soul-rock vein of Tupelo Honey-era Van Morrison, with the acoustic strums now similarly urgent. Wiser Time then lets them end with an old promise: ‘On a good day, I know it ain’t every day, we can part the sea.’
They can’t on this low-key excursion, but as a joint guitar coda extends the communal finish we leave with a taste of what we came for.