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Page, Black Crowes delivered a first-rate, satisfying evening


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The bare-chested, balding and beer-gut crowd came for manly blues rock and they were rewarded big time when '70s guitar god Jimmy Page and Georgia rockers the Black Crowes kicked off their North America tour Saturday at the New World Music Theatre. The mostly male audience may have expected a heavy dose of classic rock staples from the former Led Zeppelin ax-wielder, but Page and the Crowes were wisely not so generous. What made this more than your average golden chestnut toss was the set-list which featured Led Zep oddities as well as a few blues homages.

Even still, there was little doubt this cross-generational match-up rivaled Zeppelin in its prime. At 32, Crowes vocalist Chris Robinson did a prime Robert Plant from his femme falsetto and stage strut right down to his messy locks and diamond-studded jeans.

But the real presence was Page who, at 56, boxed around the stage like a kid, teasing Robinson and forcing the six-member Crowes to grind through the decades-old songs with a very present furor.

The band is on tour with The Who, playing back-to-back dates in support of their respective Internet-only albums. Even though both are heavy with greatest hits, the Crowes managed to dust off oddities like "Celebration Day" and "Custard Pie," even picking one ("Oh Well") from another classic rock monster, Fleetwood Mac.

Page visited the past with Plant, his former partner, in the '90s, but this configuration, while wrapped in nostalgia too, had more vigor. Familiar hits ("Misty Mountain Hop," "Heartbreaker") made the cut with a vengeance, but others actually sounded in better health. The much grittier "Your Time Is Gonna Come" was less sanctimonious than the original and Page's mid-song blues vamp inside "What Is And What Should Never Be" also swaggered longer and deeper.

The Crowes also played originals of their own, but not those you'd expect. "Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye" was a slower soul ballad until swelling to the rooftops.

Since Zeppelin and the Crowes both owe a debt to post-war blues, they played several covers, including B.B. King's "Woke Up This Morning" that allowed Page and fellow guitarists Rich Robinson and Audley Freed to trade solos, sounding like well-worn compatriots.

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