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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

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Allman Brothers Kick Major Ass at Beacon, 4/7/07
Monday, April 23, 2007

After 12 Allman Brothers concerts in 3 weeks, once they leave town I'm in major make-up-for-lost-time mode; catching up on work, spending time with the wife and that cute little princess over there in the flickr box. So the last one, two reviews take me a long time to get out. Here's Saturday night April 7th:

I Walk on Gilded Splinters
Every Hungry Woman
Rocking Horse
Gambler’s Roll
Manic Depression
Who’s Been Talkin’ (Bernie Williams, gtr) CLICK HERE
Statesboro Blues (Larry McCray, gtr)

Fire on the Bayou
Hey Pocky Way
(Haynes, Matt Abts, Danny Louis, Andy Hess, Leo Nocentelli, Cyril Neville)

Don’t Want You No More >
Dreams >
bass > drums >
Mountain Jam > Dazed and Confused > Mountain Jam

Lovelight (Jay Collins, sax; Robert Randolph, pedal steel)

If last night was in the pocket, tonight is in your face, in your pants, blow-your-hair-back power and beauty. Last Saturday night of the run, time to open up the whupass but good, take no prisoners, and let it rip.

“Gilded Splinters,” especially up top, is a real “Bam! There they are!” sort of song. Warren’s slide whines against Derek’s glassy crunchy slide lines; Derek plays a hot slide solo against the gumbo beat, then Warren vibrates out a wedge of sound, leading into the vocals. Derek accompanies with some nice, chunky rhythm chording. Warren offers up a phrase, Derek responds, and they’re off on a tart duel over just the drums… Oteil steps in, brings the band back into the full on song to close. Awesomely big.

The band stays big with “Every Hungry Woman.” Warren’s lead lines are propelled by more crunchy Derek chording—indeed Derek’s rhythm guitar seems especially prominent tonight. Derek and Warren trade one-bar licks, then tumble into the harmony lines, then the final vocal section; and now the guitar players go and get it. Derek says ‘scuse me, and bathes you in white metallic light; this gives way to a frenetic duel with Warren into a full-on band close.

This one-two punch has been a hell of an eye-opener, bracing, the gauntlet thrown, so you figure they can ease back a little on the throttle. So when “Rocking Horse” unfolds from the stage, it is an “Oh my God!” moment; it drops like a big ominous bomb that slowly fills the Beacon with smoke. The smoke begins to clear as Warren commences his solo, a cool slow build… Oteil is off by the side, throwing the band back at itself in big bouncy bottom. Warren pulls up, then he and Derek trade ripples. Warren ascends again, Derek providing agile chording support. Warren goes to double time, playing straight from the furnace, then the transition licks to Derek’s solo. Derek lays out distinct sheets of sound to get the vibe fresh, moving to a rubbery fretted solo that goes high on a final attack that sets off the crowd… leading seamlessly back into the song and close.

Out of the “Horse,” Warren and Derek ring out to stretch as Oteil changes basses, then “Gambler’s Roll,” slow, bluesy, washes over like a warm towel. Big drops of the blues form on your heart… Gregg’s organ takes you to church out of the first vocal, then Derek tells a sad story with a happy ending. Warren wields the melody like a hammer; I am a biscuit, and I must sop up every drop of this song… back into the last vocal section, then Warren milks the close. Su-weet.

“Manic Depression” is another “omigod” moment. Derek has a little fun with the wavy licks, into Oteil’s vocals; Warren plays some trippy 60s-inspired lead on his solo; apparently he’s been experienced.

The band moves into a “Who’s Been Talkin’” vibe as someone is getting set up to sit in. Finally the guest is announced as Bernie Williams, former Yankee centerfielder. The Yankee fans erupt, perhaps forgetting that this is a concert, not a ballgame (the night before, no one chanted “Peter! Peter!” during Frampton’s sit-in.) The music becomes a blue, Santana-ish vibe, Warren plays some snaky minor lines, Bernie responds in kind, and then the music flips into the song. Warren’s vocals, then Bernie takes a nice, restrained, low-key solo that is in the pocket, and the place goes nuts. Warren begins with the lick from Otis Rush’s “All Your Love” (you can hear it at 1:12 if you want to check the Rush original) and builds until he’s wielding a hose of fire… the vocals… then Derek plays some fast, rich slide that pulls the band into a gallop. Derek creeps over you on the outro, Oteil stirs it up, Bernie adds lines and phrases judiciously. The way the Brothers play this song, it is all about discipline, vibe and restraint, and Williams totally gets it, nails it. Nicely done for an outfielder.

Bernie is off, and Larry McCray joins the party for the set-closing “Statesboro Blues.” McCray plays insistent rhythm leading into the vocals, Warren adds some slide. Out of the vocals McCray plays over Gregg’s keyboard; the crowd eats up his Texas boogie. A false ending, then back into the song for Derek, who shreds all the way up, then trades with McCray, and Warren joins in for rounds, a three-guitar rave-up finish.

The second set begins with the band that many will go to see after the show—Matt Abts, Danny Louis, and Andy Hess from Gov’t Mule, plus Leo Nocentelli and Cyril Neville from the Meters. Warren is the only member of the Allman Brothers Band on stage, and this aggregation plays a 2-song set that sort of opens for the formal second set. A sweet jam becomes “Fire on the Bayou” after Warren pierces with some lead, a great groove; then “Hey Pocky Way.” All percolating funk over sweet keyboard bed, with stylish guitar lines over the top from both Warren and Nocentelli; it aint the Allman Brothers, but it shimmies and simmers. These are maybe the two best-known, catchiest songs in the Meters’ repertoire, and a fun way to lead into the home stretch.

And what a home stretch.

The band reassembles and launches into “Don’t Want You No More.” A nice, new riff emanates from Oteil… Derek takes off… the song riff… Warren stings… then the two guitarists wrap around the twin licks of the theme… the song comes to an almost-full stop on that extended note that usually segues to “Not My Cross to Bear”… then, an easy breezy sway forward into “Dreams.” It feels perfect.

On the opening of his solo, Derek lays out big, loud lines, then pulls them into sweet blues… he moves to long expositions… lays his part nicely to bed, then breaks through with glassy waves of sunshine that amp the energy back up, until we are back in that place where Gregg was staring into the abyss. Derek plays some bluesy, light round fire, then finally throws us back into the song, and Gregg sings the back end. The drummers make the whole thing bigger with a blend of rhythms over the top… a wavy electric triumph, highlighted of course by Derek’s long flashy interlude.

After “Dreams,” from a full stop and after a minute and change of down time, the bass solo section begins from a standing start. Oteil does some melodic exploration, then scats, no Derek bass line yet. He moves to a bass funk groove, still scatting; Derek is on it for him, Marc provides coloration... Once his song is sung, Oteil starts the drum solo by slapping out a rhythm on the bass; the drummers pick it up as Oteil moves to Butch’s kit, and the band moves through the dark night of the drums…

…Derek is the first one back out of the drums. Butch rides on the timpani, and here comes “Mountain Jam. Derek plays slow, vamping lines as the drummers drive at the beat; he darts and skits away from the melody, skipping melodic stones across the river of humanity in the room… playing a siren song… then finally he falls into the licks for keeps, Warren joins, and they go to the theme. Derek plays a dewy solo based on the “Mountain Jam” melody, then of course he reels out of it, into a fire dance… he finds the note, likes it, hits at it again and again. Gregg plays a swinging electrified solo, then Warren begins with slide notes that are question marks. Oteil is in the pocket, Derek is playing rhythm guitar with little sizzles. (All night, Derek’s rhythm playing has been front-and-center, and revelatory.) Warren plays the “Birdland” lick, and the band briefly joins him; then he makes like a bird and flies, with Derek and Oteil; the three of them interweave, not “Birdland,” not quite “Mountain Jam.” Warren throws the slide as high up the neck as it will go, again and again… then a monster groove, Oteil Derek and Warren SO plugged in, a sort of electric power trio slam… then finally Warren calls it all to a halt with the move into the hard wobble of “Dazed and Confused.” Out of the vocal, Warren wah-wahs some white boy blooz. Derek and Warren roll the riff in unison… back to vocals… a big, lumbering classic rock riff, they pummel it into the ground… then out of the burning embers, the return to “Mountain Jam,” gentle at first, but Derek hits it quick, and soon the band is into a big-ass Saturday night close.

Warren informs us that this is the 175th Allman Brothers show at the Beacon. Jay Collins sets up on sax, Robert Randolph on pedal steel for the encore, and this is a good thing, because in some ineffable way, the night seems to have led up to “Lovelight,” and you remember that last year that’s the tune Randolph sat in on. So when the band rolls into the sweet sugary groove of that very song, it is just… perfect. Gregg sings the vocals, then a Derek jaunt, Randolph goes, the band laying down a great groove under his twangy tang (I may have that reversed); Warren and Derek chunk out the rhythm. Collins plays some nice rubbery lines, then blows as the guitars pick up the pace. The crowd applauds as Gregg goes back into the vocals, a call and response with Randolph’s steel. Randolph throws some solo lines in Derek’s general direction, Derek responds, turning his red ax into sacred steel. Derek and Randolph shine the light together, then move to a skronky call and response. They have found a common language. Then the whole damn train pulls in, big, shining the light as Warren and Collins trade licks. Warren throws the heat at Collins, his mouth open with wicked glee; Randolph is all over. It’s a runaway joyous groove; Gregg tries to elbow his way into the song for the final vocal part… Warren and Derek play some nice twin rhythm on the refrain, then a big, slamming close, Warren bodily throwing the song down and into the night.

It is a hell of a show, maybe the best of the run so far. Powerful, commanding, yet still full of grace.

Randolph (seated), Collins (far right) join the band for "Lovelight."

Posted by: --josh-- @ 4:15 PM  

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