Concert review: A.J. Croce’s “Croce Plays Croce” | 12.03.23, The Factory

If the Factory wasn’t sold out, it was awfully close to it. The crowd felt like they were going to a play, not a two-plus-hour show by a 5th generation musician about his rock n’ roll folk singer father. The show opened with an old video of Jim Croce calling his little boy into the room, “Here comes A.J.”

A.J. Croce started the night off with “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.” He spun his chair between a piano and an organ, and was clearly a master of each instrument he touched. The band, made of musicians that you’ve heard before, guaranteed. The drummer Gary Mallaber, for example, was the inspiration for Animal from the Muppets. You know these musicians.

Croce gave us a rundown of his famous band in our recent conversation previewing the show. Their years of seamless shifting between bands and backup singers gave them the ability to keep up with Croce’s almost dizzying shift in genres, moods, and energies. He played jazz, rock, the blues, folk music, and classical in one show. The band kept up beautifully. The crowd did too, for that matter. He was so dynamic and charming that I’m convinced most of the audience got a crush on him. He just looks like a nice guy who smells really good all the time? Like sandalwood.

The show had intermittent stories about the Croce family, and followed his father’s life from his early influences such as Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. We learned about Jim’s early years, the time leading up to his all too brief career. Elder Croce’s hits were at the beginning, middle and end of the show, and each had enthusiastic crowd participation. “Photographs and Memories,” “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” and others peppered in the mix with both Croce’s influences and some of A.J.’s own excellent recordings—“Rollin’ On” and “Judgement Day”—followed up by Billy Preston’s “Nothin’ from Nothin’,” which in itself was a wild ride.

We then learned about A.J.’s incredible career in music and the similarities between the two of them is so evident. This is a family story—a family event. The crowd left feeling like they got to learn about an old friend while making a new one. | Melissa Cynova

“Croce Plays Croce” tour dates:

01.26.24 – Anna Maria, FL – The Center of Anna Maria Island

01.27.24 – Avon Park, FL – Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts

01.28.24 – Immokalee, FL – Seminole Casino

01.30.24 – Charlotte, NC – Knight Theatre

01.31.24 – Durham, NC – Fletcher Hall The Carolina Theatre

02.01.24 – Atlanta, GA – Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

02.03.24 – Greenville, SC – Peace Concert Hall

02.04.24 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Music Hall

02.06.24 – Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Theatre

02.08.24 – Washington, D.C. – Warner Theatre

02.09.24 – Englewood, NJ – Bergen Performing Arts Center

02.10.24 – Troy, NY – Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

02.13.24 – Norwalk, CT – Wall Street Theater

02.14.24 – Buffalo, NY – Kleinhans Music Hall

02.15.24 – Concord, NH – Chubb Theatre at CCA

02.17.24 – Providence, RI – Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium

03.23.24 – Memphis, TN – Soundstage at Graceland

03.24.24 – New Orleans, LA – Joy Theater

03.26.24 – Fort Smith, AR – TempleLive

03.28.24 – Lexington, KY – Lexington Opera House

03.29.24 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium

03.30.24 – Carmel, IN – The Palladium

04.03.24 – Holland, MI – Holland Civic Center Place

04.05.24 – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater

04.06.24 – Chicago, IL – Auditorium Theatre

04.09.24 – Champaign, IL – Virginia Theatre

04.10.24 – Eau Claire, WI – Pablo Center

04.12.24 – Springfield, MO – Gillioz Theatre

04.13.24 – Kansas City, MO – Kauffman Center

*Additional tour dates to be announced (check

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