Friday, October 24, 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
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.
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
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
“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
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.