Detroit, Michigan (Jan 25,2019 ) -When The Magpie Salute hit the stage Friday night at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit Michigan, Rich Robinson announced to the crowd, “You got some freezing cold weather here, kind of like a cold vortex”. Fortunately for the fans, the “red hot” performance they were about to enjoy would temper the thought of the freezing night air, if only for a few short hours.
Most remember The Magpie Salute as a 10 piece band that toured in 2017, but that all changed when they recorded their 2018 release “High Water I”. No longer just a of reboot of the Black Crowes that Robinson co-founded, the reimagined band is now a six piece unit that retain Crowes band-mates Marc Ford and Sven Pipien. Now, armed with their own music, the 2-hour show features songs off their recent release plus an eclectic mix of Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd covers along with the aforementioned Black Crowes favorites
There is no confusion where The Magpie Salute came from, and the band does very little to hide that fact. Musically, they are a basic hybrid of themselves realized by mixing classic rock along with guitar riffs and rhythms associated with some of the greatest blues legends who ever played. Robinson and Ford are formidable axe players in their own right but together they form the basis for which the The Magpie Salute sound revolves. The interplay between the pair is crisp and neither guitar took precedence over the other anytime Friday night.
The Magpie Salutes well planned set wasted no time in showcasing new material off their recent 2018 release. “High Water” started the night off and the energy and crowd appreciation built from there. Guitar heavy “Mary the Gypsy” and the soulful “For the Wind” quickly dispelled any doubt that the new six-piece unit had separated itself from their earlier endeavors. “Color Blind” took the budding crescendo in the beginning and turned it into an all out musical assault by the end. At others concerts, subtle moments like this often go undetected, but tonight they were the wall that that separated The Magpie Salute from their lingering past.
Friday night wasn’t just about The Magpie Salutes new material either. The band reached deep into the musical archives and came out with a few smoking covers. The Allman Brothers Band “Dream” was red hot and featured British-born singer John Hogg smooth powerful voice. Not to be out-done, it was soon Robinsons turn to take over the vocals for his version of the Velvet Undergrounds classic “Oh!Sweet Nuthin’.” Each cover had a rich, uniqueness of its own with both Robinson and Ford changing the hooks to mimic the Magpie sound, but yet still true to the original.
As the show wound down, The Magpie Salute finally gave their casual fans what they wanted to hear, the Black Crowes. They didn’t just touch on the hits from the band; they went to deeper cuts such as “Another Roadside Tragedy”, “Sometimes Salvation” and “Gone”. The selections seemed to please the crowd and saw them singing word for word back at the band. By now, The Magpie Salute could have taken their accolades and left the stage, but they didn’t, not yet at least. They remained onstage and ended the night on a high note by performing “Send Me an Omen”, a cut off their latest release. While some fans seemed a bit disenchanted with the selection, the hardcore fans seemed to revell a little longer, and sing a little louder with it. The finishing song choice turned out to be the perfect elixir to end the night.
Tonight, it wasn’t about over the top rock and roll or outlandish stage shows. It was live music in its purist form, performed by talented musicians. Granted, The Magpie Salute doesn’t have years of material of their own to reach back for, but they make do better than anyone else with what the do have. Close your eyes and remember when rock and roll was king. Open them, and you see The Magpie Salute, carrying on traditions that were relevant 50 years ago, but just as pleasing today as it was then, only better.