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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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The Allman Brothers Band; October 22, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014

The second night of the final run had some high points, but overall, for me at least, it didn’t quite take me to that stratospheric place… except the times it did…

It is a blue collar, lunch pail kind of night. “Statesboro Blues,” a fiery “Walk on Gilded Splinters,” and “Trouble No More” are a solid 1-2-3 opening; “Splinters” simmers and roils and bubbles. Then Warren steps forward to lead the band through “Who’s Been Talkin’.” This Howlin’ Wolf cover has never made it’s way to an official release (of course it’s on a bunch of the official boots). For me though, it’s one of the quintessential songs for the current line-up. Tonight it rides in over nice, moody percolation, Warren playing thick, tiny, sweet dancing lines that eventually mosey over toward the melody. Then he lays out bluesy Santana-infused lines giving way to the opening verse. There’s a beautiful extended outro on the back end, with both guitars leaving tons of space, and darting and dancing around the unplayed notes like two kids playing in a light rain.

“Don’t Keep Me Wondering” is full of elastic jamming, riding on the back of Oteil’s frisky bass; mid-song, Warren turns toward Oteil, flashing him one of those evil, 100 megawatt smiles. “Dusk Till Dawn” is up next, long and brooding. Derek pulls us down a rabbit hole; the band tumbles along down after him, before coming out the other side and reconvening around the core riff. After “Midnight Rider,” the band unfurls “Black Hearted Woman” to wrap the set. It is a furious, smoldering, runaway freight train; Warren is piercing, everyone else runs round and round, faster and faster underneath. They hit the transition riff that segues into the “Other One” jam full of Oteil on the bottom; then the clouds part, the music goes sparse, Derek steps forward, fills more and more space, the band steps right up with him. Warren shoots another smile Oteil’s way. Derek pulls up, sprinkles silvery mist, then brings the music down… and then, for the second night in a row, an impromptu instrumental run through “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” Derek is white hot; then Warren joins him with harmony licks, they put “Circle” to bed and tumble back into the “Other One” jam, then back into “Black Hearted Woman.” It’s like a play within a play within a play, and a highlight.

The second set opens with the crowd pleaser “Melissa,” then a guitar manifesto version of “The Same Thing”—as a Beacon denizen, I’m used to hearing horns on this one-- with Warren and Derek squaring off in the mid-section. Warren offers an airy, breezy solo on “Come and Go Blues,” while Derek fills the spaces between the vocal lines with tart phrases. On “Desdemona,” Derek stirs up some flashy trouble on slide; Warren starts small, then builds a solo that is full of yearning. Then “Southbound”—the first time in ages I recall hearing this one as something besides a guest-laden encore. The peeps in the cheap seats are happy…

The set closes with a big, thunderous “Mountain Jam.” Early on, Derek rides an Oteil/drums surge. Gregg’s organ bubbles up from the driving gumbo. Then Warren goes all playful, spattering lines like questions. Oteil is rumble-atious underneath Warren; he guides the music down, down, then Jaimoe bubbles up, heralding the bass/drum section. Oteil’s hands fly across the fret board as he solos over the three drummers, then giving way to the three-man drum attack. When the players fall away and it’s just the drummers, you realize they are making the sound of life… then twin licks bring us back, the guitar intertwine like a double helix, Derek puts it to bed on the lovely false ending, giving way to the final statement of the theme. The encore, an especially jaunty “One Way Out,” is the only song repeated from the prior night.

As I say, not the magical show we come out hoping to catch, but no one went away unhappy, and the highlights were nice and high.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 3:24 PM  0 comments

THe Allman Brothers Band: October 21, 2014
We are told that these are to be the last six Allman Brothers Band shows ever.  Like, EVER. I’ve seen them an awful lot—a good 150 times. Maybe 120 of those have been since Warren Haynes returned to the fold in March 2001, so this—these seven guys—this is my band. I’ll be sorry to see ‘em go.

I’ll be at all six shows. I can’t decide if that makes this a happy time, or a sad time. I guess I’ll worry about the finality of it all later; for now, let’s just dive deep into the music this one last time…

Opening night. The excitement at the Beacon is always palpable, a living thing; tonight it is especially pronounced, electric.  The band opens, as you know they would, with “Don’t Want You No More,” probably their quintessential opener; Derek stings like a bee. “Not My Cross to Bear” is marked by Warren’s sinewy elastic blues lines; Gregg’s vocals drip molasses, the song is rubbery and crunchy. Then Oteil’s big bottom thunder propels “Hot ‘Lanta,” Gregg offers up a swinging organ solo, then each guitarist, then drums—it’s a taut, powerful rendition, and the capper on an emphatic 3-song entrance. “We’re here,” they are telling us, “and we’ll be here a while.”

Derek shreds on “Just Another Rider,” the one original composition on Gregg’s last solo record. A swinging “Done Somebody Wrong,” then Warren steps forward for “Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home.” Marc Quinones rides a spicy percussive high over some funk bass, then Oteil plays Freaky Friday with Warren, playing lead on the bass, while Warren and Derek offer up hard propulsive rhythm playing in return. The band is swinging. Then Warren and Oteil go back to occupying their own bodies, and Warren flies up and down the neck, all the while the band is camped out on the one chord, making this blues a funk. Warren is like a magnet for Oteil, who is drawn into his orbit; they move close together for a guitar/bass duel, before finally the band returns to the song’s riff to close it out. A definite highlight.

Derek is easy breezy on “Aint Wastin’ Time No More,” Warren plays some happy lines. Then “Come On In My Kitchen” is a pleasant surprise, slow, full of bluesy tension that is finally released when they step into double time.

Then comes a sequence that, looking back now, is the highlight of the night for me. It begins when they launch into “True Gravity.” Now, it was nice enough back in the spring when they played this song. But tonight it is huge, epic, majestic, reminiscent of the grand 1996 versions (albeit without a drum solo). The guitars are like two horses running wild through a field. Derek takes a beautiful solo, starting small as the music breathes, loping, racing, building until Warren joins him in harmony, guiding the music back to the theme. I’m hoping to hear this a couple more times…

Out of the hanging final note of “True Gravity” emerges “You Don’t Love Me.” The song proper is relatively brief, with Warren and Derek careening solos off each other. Off the back end they roll into the shuffle jam that in the past had begun the song, and which is more fun than the song itself; tonight this features a jaunty little conversation between Warren and Derek. Then, impromptu, the guitarists decide to take the band into “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” a lovely instrumental version, the rest of the band falling quickly in with them.  It is aching and exquisite, and gracefully brings the set to a close. In all, from “True Gravity” on, about 23 minutes of that’s-what-I’m-talkin’-‘bout.

The second set opens with the drums swelling, Derek commenting over the top, then a count-in and it’s “One Way Out.” Next up Stand Back” is, as always, an Oteil showcase, the drummers laying down the groove for him to bounce off of, around, and through. Then “Spots of Time,” still a new song for this band, but tonight full of narrative both vocal and instrumental.  There is a moment of sadness—you think to yourself, “this one is coming along nicely, I wonder what it’ll sound like in two years?  And then you remember….

The light show for this song now includes imagery of Monument Valley, providing a strong suggestion to hear this one as a cowboy song. Who am I to argue…

“Revival” is up next, a short run-through, closer to the recorded version, as opposed to the extended jam arrangement of the last 9 years or so; it is a tight piece of punctuation. Then “The Sky is Crying.”  A slow, 12-bar blues seems too easy for this band, and for some people it can be boring; But the blues is almost like rock’s haiku; the structure so rigid that the artist is actually left free to soar. Tonight Warren plays the hell out of the blues, soars, lays it on extra-thick… then strips it all away… out of the vocals Derek bends fat lines of slide tone. He tortures his poor strings until they cry out in anguish, eliciting an ovation.

Gregg provides a nice, extended solo on “Elizabeth Reed”—not just his “part,” but some serious soloing, as Derek eggs him on. Then the guitar players bring the jam through the reggae classic “Get Up, Stand Up,” and back out the other side Warren makes his guitar wail and cry, as the band sprints forward underneath… then the drum solo, and back for the all-too-brief finish.

“No One Left to Run With” is the encore, like “Revival” a shorter arrangement than in recent years, perhaps owing to the lateness of the hour (it is after all a school night.) It is crunchy, concise, and to the point.

In all I thought it was a solid show, boding well for the next week. For me the first set was the better of the two, but place this solidly in the ‘win” column.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 12:13 AM  0 comments

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