Allman Brothers Band hits the note in NYC

The Allman Brothers Band has a long history of playing New York City, dating back to the first year of their existence, 1969.

Be it the Fillmore East, where they were a favorite of Bill Graham and recorded arguably the greatest live rock album of all time, or Central Park, where they made a surprise reunion in 1978 after breaking up, the Allmans seem to raise their game in the Big Apple.

Decades later, the band calls the city home each March, as they take the stage at the Beacon Theatre for an extended run of shows.  Usually, this means great guest appearances and break-out covers.

It always means the best music on the planet. 

This year, the first weekend of the run meant the third and fourth show, as the band had already played a private party on the preceding Tuesday, and kicked off the official run on Thursday.

Friday’s (3/23) show opened with a whopper of a jam,"Les Brers in A Minor," and with that the band was off and running. 

They ripped through "Can’t Lose What You Never Had," and Warren Haynes belted out one of what would be many covers during the show with a version of "The Sky is Crying" that just oozed with soul.

Routinely it seems that, even though there are two lead guitarists in the band, one of them steps up each night and "claims" the show as their own.  Friday was definitely a Derek Trucks show.  His solo at the end of "Who To Believe" was monstrous in the way that only Derek can define the word.

Susan Tedeschi and saxophonist Jay Collins came out for a stellar rendition of the Band’s "The Weight."  Tedeschi’s voice is second to none, and she and Haynes traded verses; Tedeschi’s voice was the perfect complement to Haynes’s.  The tune closed out the first set, leaving the room begging for more.

The second set opened with a searing "You Don’t Love Me" that did as much justice to the version on the band’s seminal At Fillmore East as could be done.  Again, Trucks was the man here with a vicious solo.  As the tune came to a close, the licks from King Curtis’s "Soul Serenade" could be heard seeping out of Haynes’ Les Paul, just like Duane Allman’s version on the classic live album.

The Allmans have a way of making each Beacon run special.  Two years ago, at the start of the second set at most of the shows ,they rolled a baby grand piano out for Gregg, who took the stage on his own and did a solo tune before being accompanied by one of the guitarists. 

Last year, each night the band invited special guests to join them, ranging from legends like Peter Frampton and John Hammond to actor Bruce Willis. 

This year in the early going, the band seems to be making an effort to debut new cover tunes.  Thursday night’s show featured Miles Davis’ "In A Silent Way."  During the second set on 3/23, bassist Oteil Burbridge took the mic and led the band through Jimi Hendrix’s "Manic Depression," much to the delight of seemingly everyone in the room.

After a great "Trouble No More" another cover emerged, a raunchy "Walk On Gilded Splinters," with a drum solo that featured Burbridge on a horizontally-laid marching band bass drum, sandwiched in the middle.  The band came back on stage, and after finishing up "Gilded Splinters," launched into "Black-Hearted Woman."

Mid-jam during "BHW," the band started the tribal-esque beats of the Grateful Dead’s "The Other One," completely tearing it apart before returning to the original tune and closing the second set.

Only Trucks and Haynes returned to the stage following the break and played "Preachin’ Blues" as a duet before being joined by the rest of the band and Collins on saxophone for a show-closing "Southbound."

The doors opened, and the packed house filed onto the New York streets, abuzz with both the excitement of the night’s show and anticipation of the next evening.

 

 

 

Saturday (3/24) night started off like many Allman Brothers shows – with Gregg Allman’s counting off of "Statesboro Blues."  The band seemed a little off early; there just didn’t seem to be as much energy on stage as the previous night.  "Revival" was pretty solid – both Trucks and Haynes had great solos – but and "Leave My Blues At Home" was good but nothing to write home about.

During "Rocking Horse," Haynes took his solo first, and as things progressed, inched closer and closer to Trucks, who seemed not to notice for a while; he eventually played a solo of his own.  After saxophonist Ron Holloway came out for the requisite "Soulshine," things changed.

During "High Cost of Low Living" someone finally decided to hit the on-switch for the band.  Trucks showed up big here, and as his solo closed out the song, the entire room was silent in a sort of "we’re at the symphony so let’s show some respect" kind of way. 

If someone had dropped a penny on the floor downstairs, those in the upper balcony would have heard it. 

Trucks wrapped his solo up, and after a few seconds of eerie silence, the room exploded.

After a set-closing "One Way Out," the band took their set break.

During the break, guitar tech Brian Farmer grabbed Trucks’ Les Paul from its stand on stage, plugged in, and tuned up.  The band came back from the break with North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickinson in tow, and they opened with a triple-slide attack on Robert Johnson’s "Come On In My Kitchen," each guitarist getting a little time to strut their stuff.

The band then played the first "Dreams" of the run, after which things got especially hot.

As the shuffling beat that kicks off "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" came out of the PA, the crowd cheered, really having no idea what they were in for.  The band shredded the song, and as Gregg and Warren left the stage for the drum solo, Trucks and Oteil stayed up front. 

Derek set his guitar down, walked over to Oteil’s back-up bass and picked it up, beginning to play as Oteil scatted along to his own bass solo.

Midway through his solo, Oteil broke a string with an extremely audible "POP!"  As the string lay hanging from its peg head, he kept playing before taking over the drum kit for Butch Trucks.  

Eventually, the band came back out and instead of finishing up "Elizabeth Reed," the drum section kicked off  "Mountain Jam."  The band played around with that for a while, before quickly changing pace.

There are very few cover tunes that have been played better than the original.  However, when the Allman Brothers shifted from "Mountain Jam" to Led Zeppelin’s "Dazed and Confused," they entered into that pantheon. 

Haynes’ vocals were spot-on, and the dual guitar attack was just more powerful than Jimmy Page could ever render on his own.  Trucks’ screeching slide melted every face in the room, and "Dazed and Confused" got the loudest ovation of the weekend as the band finished it up and played their way back into "Mountain Jam."  Even a "Whipping Post" encore couldn’t top the magic that the Zeppelin cover brought.

There’s a myth that bands consciously play better in some venues than others.  If there is any exception, it’s the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon. 

After playing the same room ten-plus times a year for over a decade, they’ve got the sound nailed.  They can bring their families along without having to shuffle them from tour bus to hotel, from hotel to venue, and back to the bus. 

Most of all, they have a love affair with the city that dates back decades.

The first weekend of the Beacon run left everyone dazed, but certainly not confused.  It’s been over 35 years since Duane Allman played "Soul Serenade" in the middle of "You Don’t Love Me."  The Fillmore East may be long gone, but now the Brothers have the Beacon, and the magic’s just the same.

 

 

 

3/23 

Set 1: Les Brers In A Minor, Can’t Lose What You Never Had, Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More, Sky Is Crying, Who To Believe, Stand Back, The Weight*#
Set 2: You Don’t Love Me, Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’, Manic Depression, Trouble No More, Gilded Splinters > Drums > Gilded Splinters, Black Hearted Woman > The Other One > Black Hearted Woman
Encore: Preachin’ Blues, Southbound#

* w/ Susan Tedeschi
# w/ Jay Collins

 

3/24

Set 1: Statesboro Blues, Revival, Leave My Blues At Home, Rockin’ Horse > Soulshine*, High Cost Of Low Living, One Way Out
Set 2: Come In My Kitchen#, Dreams* > In Memory of Elizabeth Reed* > Drums/Bass$ > Mountain Jam > Dazed & Confused > Mountain Jam
Encore: Whipping Post

* w/ Ron Holloway On Sax
# w/ Luther Dicinson On Guitar
$ w/ Kofi Burbridge On Flute

Click "next" for show photo galleries {mospagebreak}

 all photos by Josh Mintz / photosbyjosh.com  

 Friday, 3/23


 

Saturday, 3/24

 

 

 

 

 

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