Star Ledger 3/12 Sports
Fan Magazine 3/30
| 3/10/05 "Opening Night"
@ The Beacon (Pictures)
Sailin' 'Cross the Devil's Sea
Ain't Wastin' Time No More
Walk on Gilded Splinters
Worried Down with the Blues
You Don't Love Me
Oncoming Traffic (Gregg on grand piano)
Delta Blue (Gregg on grand piano acoustic)
These Days (Gregg and Warren)
Preachin' Blues (Derek and Warren)
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed1
Woman Across the River
Black Hearted Woman>drums>Black Hearted Woman
1w/Ravi Coltrane - sax
The annual Allman Brothers Beacon run is kind of like Spring Training and the World Series rolled into one. It has the newness of Spring Training-- what will they bust out this year?-- and the gravity of the World Series. To me, opening night is a must-attend.
It was unseasonably cold outside as Gregg limbered up under the support of a flashlight focused on the keys, then led the band through an opening "Sailin' Across the Devil's Sea," a song that had been recently absent from the set. It was a rough, hard, dissonant take, and Derek's lines perfectly matched on his solo. After a brief false start by Gregg, the band rolled into "Aint Wastin' Time No More," with Derek's fluid lines accentuating the vocals and the mid-section solo, and Warren's outro lead especially biting.
Right out of "Aint Wastin' Time," the band's percussionists go hard into the percolating gumbo of "Gilded Splinters," laying down a bed of funky drumming dirty rice. Last year this song seemed to be about twin guitars and vocal harmonies; tonight the drummers ruled the roost, Haynes drove the song with a stinging riff, and it was an early highlight. Marc is especially animated, flying cross his kit. When Derek finally joins the fray, his guitar is snapping like an alligator. The whole thing was drenched in a swampy vibe.
"Worried Down With the Blues" is up next. Derek plays the talking blues, his guitar imitating the sound and intonation of a human voice. On Warren's solo, he makes a point or two himself, before making his way to higher ground. It is a musical conversation on two levels. Meanwhile Oteil is rocking and swaying underneath it all, providing the lubrication.
Next up is the new instrumental, apparently written by Oteil and called "Egypt." Marc heralds the opening with a ringing percussive riff; then there are lush, melodic jazz chords. Warren plays the theme, running through it once; the song is upbeat but slow; the sound of the chords makes it happy, but the cadence says the band is in no hurry. Then Derek joins Warren on counter-melody, leading into a slow but peppy part, with Oteil, rumbling underneath, adding to the harmonics with sounds you can hear and other sounds you can only feel. The song's melody is constructed largely from the jazzy dramatic chords; soon Derek is layering a solo over the top. Oteil is off and running with the guitars, his eyes closed, his gaze skyward; the bottom is a third stringed voice, making the intra-guitar harmonics that much bigger. Warren spatters notes over some furious Derek chording, the rhythm section locked on. Then Warren hangs one, a big juicy transitional note that just sits there a spell, giving way to some improvisational jazzy space. Oteil remains prominent, the chords of the theme are played again, and twin guitar lines-- melody and counter-melody-- bring the song to a close, a hair longer than 20 minutes after it has begun. This is the first instrumental written for this line-up that features guitars; "Illness" is very much a bass and drums showpiece. It is fresh, new, and you know by September it will sound very different (it might even have a drum solo in the middle). But no question, it is a highlight, unlike any other of the instrumentals in the band's catalog.
"Standback" is up next; then the band lights into "Rocking Horse." The latter is a typically powerful version, Warren exciting the crowd on his solo via the device of double-timing his solo toward the end. After the hand-off Derek sprinkles notes like he's sanctifying the space; eventually he's playing at the speed of sound.
Right out of 'Rocking Horse" is the extended vamp that presages "You Don't Love Me." The band lands hard on the groove and stretches it out; Derek tosses off a pre-song solo. Oteil continues to rumble; it seems as if more of his sound than usual is occurring below sea level. It is a killer shuffle that Warren extends when the band hints at flipping over into the song proper. The whole band is locked in, Oteil testifying on bass, Butch and Jaimoe in the zone, until finally the dual licks that mark the beginning of the song proper. Warren plays the blues; then Derek plays a fiery, muddy, devil solo.
The second set begins with Gregg, alone, at the Grand piano on the right side of the stage. "Oncoming Traffic," from the '74 solo On Tour album (also recorded by Bonnie Bramlett) is soulfully sung, with piano playing to match. When Gregg announces that the next tune-- "Delta Blue," if you believe the setlist-- is a new one, and begins singing and playing like you're in his living room, I suddenly find myself thinking: is Gregg woodshedding, live? Is he now so energized as to work new material out live and solo? It is a cool treat, and you can be certain that in subsequent acoustic sets this run, there will be other songs in this slot. Gregg is clearly feeling it.
Next Gregg straps on the acoustic guitar, and he's joined by Warren for Jackson Browne's "These Days," a song Gregg has already made his own on Laid Back and subsequent tours. Warren joins in on harmony vocals, and his breezy solo lends sentiment and beauty to the tune.
Derek is on electric, and Warren on vocals and acoustic, for a gutbucket take on "Preachin' Blues." Derek's slide, electricity notwithstanding, is straight out of the thirties.Tasty.
After a rather long pause, the band counts into "Melissa-- Gregg and Warren on acoustic, with Oteil and Butch. Warren hits the note in the latter stages of the closing solo and rides the wave to the finish. The setlist calls this song electric, but it is more a transition from acoustic to electric. Overall, on this first night of the run, the acoustic set was a collection of treats, but collectively suffered a little from pacing issues. I've no doubt this will be ironed out as the run goes on. Ravi Coltrane joins the band for the return to full assault, and we are into the waltz-time of "Dreams." 'Trane takes the first lead, and he blows a hell of a solo, notes everywhere, but still vaguely, barely waltz time. Warren takes a solo; then Derek plays some straight blues, a far less improvisational approach to the song than he usually takes, probably because he prefers the single soloist approach to the piece.
Out of "Dreams" the melody lines cascade into transitional space, the drummers add flourishes, and then the band formally kicks into "Elizabeth Reed." Oteil, Coltrane (how cool does that look in print?), and the drummers lay down some funky rhythm space. The rest of the band shakes and shimmies on top. Warren saunters over to Oteil, and there is a moment in time where Oteil is emanating, just emanating, and Warren is right next to him, absorbing. The attack of the jam in the song's mid-section flies headlong into a collision course with a drum-and-bass interlude, not so much a drum solo as a rhythm break. The other players do not leave the stage. Derek adds some chords to nudge the sprightly jaunt back towards "Elizabeth Reed," and a hard, emphatic finale. It is a hell of a take.
Warren scorches on "Woman Across the River." Derek does as well, and the two trade hot, sweaty lines. Warren pulls off a "can you top this?" burst, and as he finishes Derek busts a string. He raises his arms in mock anguish, missing out on his last licks as the song comes around to the end vocals before his new guitar is in place. It is a funny moment.
"Black Hearted Woman" is the vehicle for tonight's formal drum solo. There is no bass section. The drummers have already shined on several songs ("Splinters," "You Don't Love Me.") The drum break is hard-driving, as is the coda to the song. "Southbound is the encore.
Overall it is a solid first show. There were some issues of pacing, especially around the acoustic portion and the second set; "Black Hearted Woman" and "Southbound" seemed a tad anti-climactic in the scheme of what came before. But "Egypt" was a dandy surprise and highlight; "Gilded Splinters" was a revelation, and "You Don't Love Me" and "Elizabeth Reed" rocked the house. Oh, and the acoustic set... I can't wait to see where that goes.
And so I'm off for night 2.
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
Back to Top
|3/11/05 The Beacon
Every Hungry Woman
Don't Keep Me Wonderin'
Hoochie Coochie Man
Rain (Gregg on Grand Piano)
Delta Blue (Gregg on Grand Piano)
Old Friend (Derek and Warren acoustic)
Old Before my time
Trouble No More
Mountain Jam>Drums>Mountain Jam
Encore: Whippin' Post
1w/Marc Ford - Guitar
Some folks may have thought I was restrained in my comments about
Thursday's show. There was a reason. As one woman I spoke
with Friday night put it, its like the Olympics. If you're a
judge, you can't give the first gymnast a 6.0, because what happens if
the next one is better? What would I do, in short, about a show
like-- oh, I don't know-- Friday night?
There was a kink or two to be ironed out Thursday, mostly in the pacing;
I do not think the band would have disagreed. I had no doubt
things would be neatly ironed and pressed by night two.
The band takes the stage and begins the onset of a
slow-building, instrumental crescendo, part tuning, part performance, before
hitting the mark on an aggressive "Every Hungry Woman."
They are immediately "present," in your face, with Oteil on
the bottom and Warren driving the band forward. There is the
insistent 2-guitar riff, then Warren plays some pile driver guitar--
Warren was spot-on all evening-- and then Derek pulls and snaps a solo
from the strings of his poor guitar. Then "Statesboro Blues,
with Warren, then Derek, playing blues solos over the bumpa dumpa
Oteil announces "Wasted Words" by improvising around the riff
before the band joins him to slam into the song. On his slide solo
Derek gets very loud, very hot, and very fast, a dramatic and powerful
Warren leads the band through "Hiding Place," a Haynes
original he's played solo, that might as well be another Howlin' Wolf
song, with its variation on the "I'm a Man"/Hoochie Coochie
Man" familiar blues riff (actually, that probably makes it more of
a Muddy Waters song.) "Is that going to be an Allman Brothers
song?" I ask one of the band's posse. "Yeah, I think
so" is the response. Good choice. Like a lot of the
blues tunes Warren brings to the band, this one spends a lot of time on
the one chord, the simplicity of song structure a vehicle for hard bop
improv. Gregg plays some absolutely delicious church organ.
Warren goes way up the fret board for his slide solo; Derek drives the
song to a resounding close.
"Midnight Rider" is up next, always a sing-along; Warren
sticks close to the now-familiar arrangement.
For the second night in a row the band favors us with the instrumental, "Egypt."
The more this song is played, the easier it will be to tell which parts
are composed and which are improvs. Tonight, in addition to the
distinct dessert vibe, the song elicits thoughts of Santana in the
instantly sublime opening chording. Derek plays a nice, climbing
solo, his notes resonating throughout the house. Warren does an
eastern dance with his spot. Overall, this song is shaping up as a
beautiful addition to the set, and a compositional high point in the
band's latter-period oeuvre (if I'm going to write reviews, I am
required by law to use the word "oeuvre." I don't even
know what it means.) Twenty minutes just seems to fly by.
Derek wails away, aggressively aloof-- and by the way, try being
aggressive and aloof at the same time if you think its easy-- in his
solo on "Don't Keep Me Wondering." At the end he points
to Oteil, who picks up the riff but does not go off alone.
Then another highlight, "Desdemona;" the song has already
become a band classic, and is greeted as such by the crowd. Gregg
begins the instrumental break, after some heart-wrenching singing, with
a nifty chorded organ solo; Derek, hovering nearby, watches him like a
hawk the whole time. Then Derek peels off a slippery, resonant
note that leads into his solo, layering it on top of Gregg's chording of
the song's mid-section framework. Derek appears to have stopped
pretending that the jazzy section to this song isn't "My Favorite
Things," and within seconds he is stating that familiar song's
beloved melody, Broadway by way of Coltrane. As he usually does
with a melody, though, Derek wraps his guitar around it, basks in it
ever so briefly, then just as quickly moves away from it, taking off on
variations and improvisations. Bubbling just beneath the surface,
though, as reference point to his solo, is the "Desdemona/My
Favorite Things" melody, implied by the chord structure. Soon
he is playing monstrous, arena-sized salvos, drawing the crowd to its
feet. Then, finally, he hits the hanging note that serves to pass
the baton to Warren. And all the while, Derek never takes his eyes
Warren plays some garden variety achingly beautiful blue note guitar,
with Butch driving the train underneath. Warren's playing is
stellar, BIG, and he hits the note on the wind-down of his solo; the
crowd is appreciative but sort of sorry when the band finally touches
down for the final vocal section; you didn't want the fire to go out.
Then, right into "Hoochie Coochie Man," no extended opening
guitar duel. The band hits the song hard, hammering home the blues
overtones of the first set. It is a strong one.
The grand piano is wheeled out for Gregg to begin the second set, and he
favors us with "Rain," the Beatles song he covered a la Ray
Charles. Stripped of the recorded arrangement-- just voice and
piano-- Gregg approaches the number like a folk song, finding the heart
of the song and wrapping his voice and chops around it. As I say,
less gospel, more folk. A very "solo Gregg" sound.
Then "Delta Blue," which to these ears sounded more vital and
urgent than the night before, and is shaping up as a keeper. I
wonder if it will evolve into a full band number.
"These Days," of course, is one of those songs which you have
to be a total Scrooge to dislike, and Gregg and Warren again did it up
right. Then, during what is now becoming the Derek and Warren
slot, the two trotted out "Old Friend," a dirty bluesy take
featuring sweet dual acoustic slides.
Easing back into the full band array, the boys take on "Old Before
My Time;" like "Melissa the previous night, a good segue from
acoustic set to full-on electric. But the exclusion of
"Melissa" somehow improves the flow of the second set.
Warren takes the narrative solo in what is essentially a folk song, his
ringing lines drenched in empathy for the protagonist's lot. Then
a jaunty "Trouble No More," before things start to get very
Marc Ford, once and future Black Crowe, joins the band for a rollicking
"Same Thing." Ford heats up the coal on his solo, then
tosses a hot one to Warren, who cools it down leading into the vocal
section. Warren and Derek's harmony lines give way to Oteil's
bouncy solo, the point on which the song turns from a blues to a funk,
without really changing. Derek grabs the ball out of Oteil's solo,
then the three guitarists are huddling, and lines are peeled off, flying
faster than you can see who is playing what. All three guitarists
are hanging 10 off a big oncoming wave of Oteil. A hard, emphatic
finish as that wave crashes ashore, with the guitar players all in
unison and Oteil still driving the groove; this is a stone cold
highlight, and as always on "Same Thing,", Oteil is deep in
the middle of things.
Sometimes you can catch the flow of the show, and you know in your bones
where the band is going, and this was one of those times. I don't
think anyone was especially surprised to hear Butch begin pounding out
the familiar cadence of "Mountain Jam." Soon, of course,
it's the Derek show over the Butch timpani. Marc and Jaimoe join
in to provide a full, percussive bed as Derek switches to chords in
his soloing. Gregg lays in some spot-on keyboard work, adding some
heat to the proceedings. Warren plays some cowboy-inflected lead,
giving way to an extended solo that is somehow improvisational blues as
dance music, shake your booty and all. It is a display that shows
purpose and discipline. Derek proceeds to testify with cool blue
arrows of sound, leading gracefully into the drum section. Marc
shines first, then Butch shakes things up. Soon a 3-drummer
assault is underway, Jaimoe's subtle rock steady beat the glue to the
voices of Marc and Butch's kits. Oteil joins the fray, but there
is no bass solo; instead he is all over the fret board, layering bottom
over the top of the drums. Derek provides some coloration with his
chording, and soon the band flips into the march section. Then
they slow down, and Derek's tone becomes a bird, soaring through the
rafters of the theater. Warren makes the wise musical decision to
play no notes, and his not playing is right on the money; Derek carries
the ball, finally winding his improv blues to a soft landing, the crowd
applauds, and out of the ashes Butch is on the timpani for the closing
section. Derek states the theme, the band wraps around it, and the
song is brought to a close. It is one of those 30-minute numbers
that seems to flash by in ten, and shows the groupmind these seven men
have going on. One of the most important musical skills,
especially in an improvisational setting, is the ability to listen; you
can actually watch these men as they listen so intently to one another,
adding just what the music calls for, nothing more, nothing less.
They sound so good, so effortless, on "Mountain Jam" that it
is as if their virtuosity is hidden by the ease and grace of the
performance. Unless you think about it, or unless you're the idiot
Again, there is little question that the encore will be "Whipping
Post." Warren plays a lengthy, dark, probing, exploring
solo. Not to say he is unleashing terrifying forces of nature, but
Helen Hunt is chasing after him in a pick-up truck. The band
is big, sound man Slim's wall of sound covering the house with aching
sweaty blues, Gregg singing the hell out of the tune. It is the
only possible encore, and they nail it.
The show is an odyssey, it is transformative. That's what I look
for in Allman Brothers Band shows; a good one is a little like a great
book, where the hero is changed at the end. Only here,
the hero is you. The cold nip in the air on Broadway is a bracing
reminder of the real world. It feels good, but you want to go back
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
Back to Top
|3/12/05 The Beacon
Leave my blues at home
Done Somebody Wrong
Just ain't Easy
End of line
Oncoming traffic (Gregg on Grand Piano)
These Days (Gregg and Warren Acoustic)
Death Letter Blues (Warren and Derek)
No One Left To Run With
Encore:One Way Out
2w/Jay Collins - Sax
"Revival" is a hard-driving opener, with Warren's lines and Gregg's B3 providing spring and bounce. The tapestry of drums lays the foundation, and there is an elastic quality to the way the song snaps and bends along the groove. Next is "Leave My Blues at Home," a fierce 1-2 punch, the band is snarling out the riff, the groove seeping into every song. Gregg leans on the chords, while Derek's flashy lead lines flesh out the song's power. The energy briefly reminds of the song's southern cousin, Ike and
Tina's "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing." Derek pulls out staccato blues blasts, leading into the twin-guitar touch down.
The energy stays at Saturday night pitch with an upbeat "Done Somebody Wrong." Derek dips his brush into an Elmore James shade of blue, but then paints a Derek Trucks original. Warren steps up and plays some of his patented slow, lumbering, happy lines. Derek takes us out with insistent machine gun bursts of delta slide.
Gregg's keyboard work punctuates the entrance to "Hot 'Lanta." Warren does some hard-edged exploration, then Derek steps up, before the brief drum break.
The band continues to weave masterfully through their back catalog, pulling out the Enlightened Rogues chestnut "It Just Aint Easy." The guitarists-- neither of whom to my knowledge has played this tune in public-- play wistful lines, as Gregg anchors with church-goin' chord work. Warren rides the song's sweet melody in composing a sun-drenched solo. Maybe its the passage of time, maybe some sort of renewed vigor, maybe the different players, but Gregg's impassioned vocal delivery re-invents the song, showing just how good it was all along. Good song, good band. "End of the Line" features some nice steaming Derek over a bed of Gregg.
I'd seen him sitting, stately, in the chairs on stage, but that didn't lessen the excitement when Hubert Sumlin plugged in to Derek's right. (Later I say to Warren, "I'm sort of used to you guys, but I'm swooning over Hubert Sumlin." He laughs and pats his chest, as if to say, me too.) Sumlin adds his own gritty take on the riff to "44 Blues" before the band wobbles in. Warren sings the vocals, and Sumlin takes the first solo. He plays the song faster, with more urgency than the Allmans' almost-not-there pacing, and Sumlin pulls and tugs, straining against the arrangement, which creates an exciting tension. Sumlin does some animated shredding, hitting the occasional discordant but wholly appropriate note. Later the band pulls all the way back on the reigns for the coda, Derek hangs a question of a note in the air, then answers his own question with cool slide variations. Sumlin joins in, and soon there is a three-guitar stomp. Sumlin seems somehow out of his element, yet at the same time right where he belongs, because this is the kind of blues he helped invent.
There is an instantaneous segue into "Smokestack Lightning" (a song that may be a first for the band, although Howlin' Wolf's catalog is certainly well-mined.) Sumlin is all over the riff. All three guitarists are giving color to what is basically a one-chord vamp with a signature lick; tangled, ensnared, careening off and around each other. A perfect three-sided guitar triangle as they wring more out of that one chord than should be possible. Warren hits some more appropriately discordant notes before heading back into the vocals.
"Instrumental Illness" closes the set, the ground shaking as if something is coming from off in the distance, Sumlin's bluesy vibe still hanging in the air. A few sections in, Derek does some nice, exploratory work, clearly feeling it, splaying color. Derek is playing the band now, soaring along. The drummers, notably Marc, propel the monster forward, until at the end there is some major forward mojo-- a three-drum, deep bass, two guitar end-over-end headlong into halftime.
The second set opens with the now-familiar acoustic segment, Gregg's solo spot featuring "Oncoming Traffic" and "Delta Blue." "These Days" is shaping up to be something of a just-so song, one Warren and Gregg play essentially the same way each night, and you wouldn't have it any different. In the Derek/Warren slot the two perform Son House's "Death Letter," with a very Muddy-esque vibe, only it doesn't much matter which lyrics Warren sings here, the deep rootsy delta blues feel is consistent.
Out of the acoustic set there is a moment of hubbub and activity on the stage, Jaimoe leaves and returns, and then finally "Soulshine." Derek makes the sun shine, then Warren does, then some sweet, climactic 2-guitar interplay. Jay Collins joins the band on sax for "Dreams," taking the first, snaky solo. Derek lays out a more immediate, urgent vibe, bluesy but not straight blues. Gregg does a false entrance on the return to vocals, before Warren steps up, his solo the spaciest of the three on the song. The band looms large behind him as he guides the music down, down with the close of his solo, a lovely transition back into the waltz time that heralds the final verses. Marc attacks his kit right before Gregg embraces the final vocal section. "Dreams has a very different energy with three soloists as opposed to one; it becomes more of an eyes-open than an eyes-closed song.
The peak of "Dreams" is followed with the peak of "Rocking Horse." Warren pushes against the drums on his high-energy solo; then Derek makes a mystical, spacy, jazzy entrance. Derek picks up the propulsive vibe as a drum solo is just begging to bust out from the back line; soon, though, he is going down through a door along a path to some watery, dark place. Marc follows; he's been spot on all night. Derek slaps his fingers at the strings, torturing heavy glistening music out of the frets, before hitting on the melody line that leads back through that door and out to the song proper. Warren sings the second vocal section, then a tumultuous close, and he hits a big fat note that hangs like smoke over the stage as the front line walks off; NOW the drum solo. Oteil stays onstage and stands behind the drum riser, shimmying to the beat.
Jaimoe takes a section alone, true as a metronome, on the beat but in no hurry at all. There is a rumble as Jaimoe is joined by Butch on timpani; then Marc makes it a three-brained, pulsating organism.
At this point, having finished "Rocking Horse" and given the band's flexibility with set list, they can go anywhere. "No One Left to Run With" is the pitch perfect choice, erupting from the drums, less Bo Diddley than it has been of late, more directly propulsive. It seems to form a nice set of bookends with the opening "Revival."
A bluesy "One Way Out" encore caps the show, a true Saturday Night Special, a powerful, high impact show. The Sumlin tunes are extra special. Interestingly, it is the first night they do not play the new "Egypt," and I miss it. And the derring-do with the setlist continues...
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
Back to Top
|3/14/05 The Beacon
Don't Want You No More
Not My Cross To Bear
Ain't Wastin' Time No More
Can't Lose What You Never Had
High Cost Of Low Living
Woman Across The River
Please Call Home (Gregg on grand piano)
Rain (Gregg on grand piano)
These Days (Gregg and Warren)
Preachin' Blues (Warren and Derek)
Black Hearted Woman>Drums>Black Hearted Woman
Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?1>
Encore: You Don't Love Me
I’ve been going to see the Allman Brothers at the Beacon a long time before I knew what the Internet was; my first run was ’92. Over the years, I have come to develop a real fondness for the “off night” show; the Monday or Tuesday, mid-run gig following a night off after a week-end. It is a low-pressure affair, the energy from the crowd probably at the week’s lowest ebb, and while this might seem like a recipe for disaster, in fact it often ends up being a recipe for the sublime. If on Saturday night they bring the Honky Tonk mojo, on these nights they bring a sort of concert hall mojo (or “meaux jeaux”), and the result can be some of the most expressive, impressionistic, easy playing of the run.
Monday night was one of those shows.
As usual, Derek was walking around pre-show wearing his ax, like it is an extension of him. As the band settles in, curtain just up, Gregg twice tinkles a “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” tease. It seems like a musical continuation of some private joke, although it is a testimony to the band’s adventurousness that it was not inconceivable to think they’d actually play it. Somehow it sets the tone for the evening, but quickly Gregg counts down “Don’t Want You No More.” The song hits high gear immediately; Derek fingerpicks his blistering first solo. Then he takes a second solo, with clear shining tone, out front of the beat, leading into the hanging note on which the band pivots into “Not My Cross to Bear.” As usual, Warren announces his presence with some ringing blues. Gregg’s organ swells to fill in the gaps he leaves himself in his vocal delivery. Derek tosses out a quick line between verses, but Warren peels off the first solo. Then Derek wrenches blues from the
neck of his Gibson. The band moves easily into “Ain't Wastin' Time No More,” the breezy capper to the Don’t Want You/Not My Cross opener. Again Derek’s tone is round and full on the opening lines, leading into Gregg’s vocal; then a graceful swooping slide solo out the other side. The energy of Derek’s build-up pulls the band forward as his solo rings on and on. Then the two guitarists move closer together and Warren (I think) pulls out a smoking solo, as Gregg watches appreciatively.
“Can’t Lose What You Never Had” comes on with a hard riff that is reminiscent of the opening night “Gilded Splinters.” Warren’s gutbucket blues give way to a two-guitar horse race, which becomes twin-guitar harmonies. Way more stomp than riff.
The music comes to a halt, and it feels like time for the Warren spot. The band begins cranking out an eminently familiar riff, which I cannot seem to place… until Warren starts singing and I realize that it is “Maydelle,” but with Warren on vocals. Gregg plays a nice organ shuffle under Warren’s verses; it is a jaunty, upbeat number with abbreviated solos.
Gregg’s chording seems particularly prominent on “Midnight Rider,” anchoring the song. “High Cost of Low Living” is a Derek & Gregg vehicle. After the verse, Derek strolls over to Gregg. Warren takes the first lead on the bridge melody; Derek tosses in complimentary accents on slide. Gregg finishes the vocal section and switches keyboards as Derek begins his slow entrance, leaving time and space between his lines, letting the music breathe like good red wine. Derek then takes the drum section on a roller coaster ride, rising, dropping, up, down. His tone is fat and glassy as he makes his final touchdown, and Warren joins in, chording along with Derek’s gentle lines. Derek’s playing is fuzzy and clear as he puts this one to bed and tucks it in. Gentle, lovely playing.
>From here, the band is in a zone where every song seems to flow organically from the one before. “Woman Across the River” is the perfect follow-up, pumping the energy back up, but still an easy sort of take. Warren tosses off a brief solo before beginning the vocals; Jaimoe’s cymbal crashes propel the band on the beat. Derek peels off a quick solo, then Gregg joins the fun; he is definitely “on” tonight, and reliable predictor of a good show is Gregg’s prominence in the instrumental mix. Derek slashes out a note announcing his arrival, then plays a staccato blues. He raises his arm, swipes his hand hard past the strings, his thumb just catching one on the way down for an emphatic exclamation point of a note. Derek slaps, plucks, cajoles his guitar; he does things to it that are illegal in fifteen states. Warren offers a fuller, deeper tone on his solo, which melts into a chorded guitar duel, which melts into harmonic lines as the two players fall in together briefly,
then soar back apart, then back into the song, and a slamming finish.
You can almost taste the “Stormy Monday” in the air before they begin playing it. It’s that kind of night.
Gregg’s vocals are deeply moving on this perfect selection, over a bed of organ and guitar chords. Derek is in the pocket, starting a fat, slippery slide solo that weeps and moans. Gregg, assertive, grabs the reigns for some forceful playing. Warren hits some traditionalist blues; behind him the band swings. “Lawd, have mercy!” you think, as Gregg returns for the closing verses.
Marc’s tangy rhythms give way to the sweet chords of “Egypt.” The twin guitars wrap around the eastern-flavored theme. Derek plays a slow, meandering solo; he is clearly featured tonight. The structure and tonality of “Egypt” make it an excellent vehicle for Derek to improvise over; this piece, played all but one night so far, is the sound of the Allman Brothers Band right now. Warren picks up the pace, the rhythm section falling in. It seems like when Derek solos tonight, the band lays back, and when Warren solos, they step up. Perhaps because a majority of the songs feature Derek, the net effect of the show is a laid back vibe, like no one’s even breaking a sweat.
Warren has the band running at full tilt now; his machine gun blasts ricochet off the ruckus and into the stratosphere. Then he and the band rear up to a halt and we’re back exploring the dark ancient mysteries of the piece’s melody and chords. Oteil lays down some emphatic lines leading into a re-statement of the guitar theme, bringing a long and delicious first set to a close.
Gregg keeps the sweetness quotient high with the songs he chooses to perform during his solo slot to open set two. “Please Call Home” is stripped to its barest essence, Gregg totally inhabiting the song, wringing it dry with just voice and piano. Quick thought: a Gregg Allman episode of VH1 Storytellers. “Rain” hits that same happy place. On the “mellow night” (Bert called it that before the show) these songs are sublime additions. Warren’s opening lines are especially poignant on “These Days.” “Preachin’ Blues” with Derek and Warren is amped-up, juiced-up juke joint music. Warren adds playful salvos; Derek responds. The bottom string boogie recedes, but the rhythm remains, implied by the two soloists, echoed by the crowd’s clapping.
“Statesboro Blues” kicks off the electric portion of the set. Then “Black Hearted Woman,” which fades down into an early drum solo, the transition so subtle that I think it is merely a drum break until I notice the front line is off the stage.
Some nights a play by play on the drum solo is pointless; all you can say is, “it worked.”
Out of the drums Oteil takes his first true solo section of the run. Soon he’s joined in elastic momentum by Butch. Oteil’s playing is much harder than it is during a solo in which he scats. Jaimoe rides the cymbals over the top as Oteil takes the drummers on a deep space charge, he running the voodoo down. Then back to “Black Hearted Woman,” and the triplet-based coda has Oteil shaking your thang as the whole band is rolling on, until again they collectively stop on a dime.
Rob Barraco situates himself on keyboards by Gregg, so you are ready for “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” Derek squeezes out those familiar riffs, Warren tears into the vocals. By the time Barraco takes his Snoopy dance solo on keyboards, love doesn’t really seem all that sad at all. Barraco executes the segue to “Franklin’s Tower,” vamping on the three chords until the band falls in behind him, and the crowd catches on. Derek eschews the easy solo, using fat slippery slide to move away from the melody.
The jam on the outro keeps going as Barraco leaves the stage, mission accomplished, and then melts seamlessly into “Elizabeth Reed,” Marc accentuating with waves of shimmering steel on gong. Marc is locked in with the guitarists as they make their way to the familiar theme. Derek tames a feedback dragon on his solo; Gregg layers some Latino-flavored organ on his. Warren teases out some swampy-sounding note, and the band takes it down a notch and simmers behind him. The drummers are hot and bubbling, but Marc is particularly noteworthy. Warren unfurls a long solo that builds and builds until you ache. Then a brief drum break from the engine room in the back, before a quick dash into the theme again for the finish. Stripped of the drum solo, “Elizabeth Reed” feels reborn; the momentum just keeps peaking from start to finish.
Before the encore the guys behind me are speculating “Whipping Post.” I tell them, with a certainty I cannot fathom, that it will be “You Don’t Love Me.” Like I say, it was just one of those nights, where you KNOW, but you don’t know how. So no surprise in these quarters when the band begins the extended dance that inevitably gives way to “You Don’t Love Me.” There is a slow build, the bottom of the song begins to emerge, Derek tosses off some licks, and then the familiar opening lick and the change into the song. The band builds to a killer funk, Derek and Warren huddled together at the center of the stage, peeling off notes that splash around the room. Of course it is the perfect ending.
Great first set, sweet acoustic interlude, short but spot-on second set (if you counted the Barraco medley as one song, only 5 songs after the acoustic section.) No, it wasn’t a Saturday night show. But Saturday isn’t Monday either. It was a night when it seemed like the band was playing for themselves, and if you came along for the ride, good for you. That made it a keeper.
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
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|3/15/05 The Beacon
Trouble No More (no Jaimoe)
Every Hungry Woman
Good Morning Little School Girl
Good Clean Fun
Don't Keep Me Wonderin'
Who To Believe
Sailin' Across The Devil's Sea
I've Been Loving You Too Long1
1w/Gregg Allman & Friends Horns
It is remarkable what a difference a night can make. If Monday was the Yin side of the band, Tuesday they stormed out of the gate Yanging like a mofo. If Monday was a hazy,
spacey, laid back sort of affair, Tuesday was alpha male from the git-go.
Perhaps a major contributing factor was the absence of Jaimoe, apparently home nursing some soreness. Does it make a difference if one of three drummers is out (and replaced, I believe, by Gregg's drummer)? Well, I think drummers are a little like the umpire in baseball; when the ump has a great game, you don't notice him. Suffice it to say, in absence, Jaimoe was noticed.
But the absence presented a variable to the band, too talented a group to buckle to adversity, so it became interesting to see how they would respond. Butch begins the show with the welcome and familiar cadence to "Mountain Jam;" I don't think anyone complains when a show begins this way. The drum intro is relatively brief before Derek begins dancing the melody around the room. There are some nice space chords, Oteil bombs, and Derek improvisation, as he continues to willfully defy the limitations of the song's actual melodic underpinnings. Derek and Warren trade licks in the gentlest of approaches. Finally, Derek snaps us out of it, leading into the twin guitar theme of the tune proper.
Some time during the tune I look toward the stage at Warren, and I think I see an extra grimace, a look of fire in his steely eyes. Does it mean anything? Who knows. But apparently I thought it was worth jotting down...
Derek takes his turn out of the arranged portion of the piece, and nonchalantly takes it up to 11. Warren's solo seems to strike a chord with Oteil, who turns to face him, and embarks on a subsonic journey that you feel at least as much as hear. Warren is just a little flat of the melody (a good thing), using blue notes to season his playing. He takes us on a long sunny ride, but somehow he manages to make it a dark at the same time; think the eye of a hurricane. Stellar work. Warren and Oteil appear totally mind-melded; the entire band is craning their necks in the direction of their nexus of music.
The band deftly puts the song to bed, then rips immediately into "Trouble No More," a masterful "Mountain Jam" pay-off. Then "Every Hungry Woman," Warren doing some nice lead work into the twin harmony lines preceding the vocals. A hard, driving finish, and then they peel into "Gambler's Roll." Warren's accents add grit beneath Gregg's vocals. Then he plays an absolute killer stinging blues solo; Oteil, eyes closed, smiling, is gazing toward heaven. Clearly Oteil digs the real blues.
And speaking of, next thing you hear is a welcome "Schoolgirl" riff.
Out of the "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" verse, Warren begins with his "Spoonful" reference lick, then quickly goes incendiary. Oteil is hard and insistent on the riff. Derek goes the snaky, slidy route on his solo, a marked contrast to Warren's aggro stomp. Riff, vocals; Warren echoes the last line ("Can I come home wit' choo"), softer and softer, Derek and Oteil on the riff, also softer and softer, then more prominent. Warren provides delightful accents and tiny little lead lines on the extended play-out. Warren is on fire tonight, playing and singing with conviction and fury.
Next up is one of my long time favorite Allman Brothers numbers, the week-old "Egypt." Derek begins the instrumental section with wet, rubbery licks that evolve into lines. The whole band-- especially Warren and Oteil (the pair are a theme of the evening)-- is all over it behind Derek's wailing. The song has that "still fresh smell"; you can tell they still dig driving it around the block. Indeed they have played it every show but one so far, and you don't hear me griping.
Warren does some raw, white-knuckle wailing (my notes tell me to fix this phrase; I decided not to). Oteil is so moved, he literally bounces all the way around in a 360 degree circle. I have rarely seen one musician tangibly feed off the energy of another to the extent Oteil feeds off Warren tonight. There is smoke coming off Warren's strings as he pulls a beautifully executed maneuver back into the soothing, eerie vibe of the song's chords. I am going to stop typing right now, get up, applaud, and then pick up again.
After leaning hard into an emphatic stop chord, the band dives into "Good Clean Fun." It seems like a gritty, low down end to a gritty low down set... only it isn't the end. The Gregg Allman horns come on for "Don't Keep Me Wondering," a song where they are not used to best effect because Derek's full-necked slide solo leaves little space for them. Oteil tosses waves of bottom at the horns, Derek is biting. Next, a glorious "The Same Thing," in my book the best brass vehicle in this band's repertoire. The horn section does right by the tasty riff; Warren is feeling it on the vocals. Oteil takes his transformative bass solo mid-jam, then gives it back to Derek and Warren, who are now funkin' on the one. The horn players take a set of solos, some serious blowin' going on. Oteil strolls over and joins the team (the horns are on his side of the stage); Derek and Warren are rock steady, and it is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. Indeed it looks like Oteil might just jump out of his. (PS: I love you, brother.) Derek drives hard, then locks in with Warren on a duel that can't decide if it is a bitter fight or a hot night of lovemaking. Finally the song ends like a pile driver. It is a mondo highlight, and one killer set. "The Same Thing!" Damn. If you got up right now and went home, you'd have gotten your money's worth.
Gregg favors us with "Oncoming Traffic" and "Delta Blues" tonight during his acoustic portion. Both are lovely and full of grace. As is "These Days." Warren and Derek bounce some Delta blues lines off each other, Warren signals Derek, who kicks it into "Old Friend."
Out of the acoustic set there is some discussion; Warren says something I miss, then says "That's what the Beacon is for," and I conclude that they are deviating from the setlist. Which is not an uncommon practice. The band strikes up "Who to Believe." Warren stings like a butterfly; Derek plays a metallic-edged slide solo. Then a rumbling intro to "Sailin' Across the Devil's Sea."
The horns come back on stage, and Warren makes a dedication to Jaimoe, and the band begins their other best vehicle for horns, "Been Loving You Too Long." (Jaimoe, of course, played on the Otis original.) It is Warren's fourth vocal of the evening, all classic covers, and his selections provide a window, I think, on his personal vibe for the day. This is an aching, tortured read, accentuated by the horns. Derek's weeping solo wrings pain from the nine other players; Warren's vocals embrace it. The song is cathartic.
"Standback" is all about the riff. It is a hard-charging version. Derek solos high up the neck, then stretches his vamp past the end of the song; clearly he's got an idea. Then Butch hits the timpani and you know what that idea is, and you second the emotion: the rest of "Mountain Jam." Sublime Derek riffage finally gives way to the theme; he tosses off parabolic slide lines, each arcing endlessly higher. Now the whole band is in full-on assault, the lead guitar is just another rhythm instrument. Then the music slows; Derek makes magic across the frets, and then puts the movement to rest, only to give way to the very final refrain of the piece, the part at the end that sounds like the beginning. A sweet segue into the theme that bookends the show.
The drummers are onstage first for the encore. (My Beacon buddy Lang from St. Louis, I learn later, has joined in on drums for the encore.) They lay down some brief solo action-- perhaps due to Jaimoe's absence there has been no drum solo this evening-- before Oteil strolls out and joins in. The horns are out too, and the band is at least 11 men strong on the rollicking hot potato of a crowd pleaser. Oteil shares a comment with Warren, who laughs, and soon Oteil is beaming; Warren's lick tickles him, and they are squared off yet again. They are psychically joined here at the end, as they have been all night, a fitting capper.
As I say, worlds apart from the night before, yet equally powerful. I think in Jaimoe's absence the band ran hotter. He is too important not to be missed; they in turn are too good to let a little adversary spoil a show. As a result, it turned out to be quite a good one.
Be well Jaimoe; see you Thursday.
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
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|3/17/05 The Beacon
Done Somebody Wrong
Walk On Gilded Splinters
Come And Go Blues
Just Ain't Easy (No Marc or Jaimoe)
Whose Been Talking
Statesboro Blues (Warren on Slide)
Please Call Home (Gregg on Grand Piano)
Death Letter Blues
Key to the Highway
Leave My Blues At Home>Drums> Leave My Blues at Home
Encore: One Way Out1
1w/Dick Griffin - Trombone
Jaimoe was back in the saddle Thursday night, to the collective relief of many of us. And mid-week or not, St. Patty's Day is going to color the energy of the crowd (color it green, to be precise.) And finally, of course, the first show of the second weekend is the night that fans from all over the country, and all over the world, begin to descend upon the Upper West Side to reconvene for that unique spring ritual, congregation of the First Church of the Allman Brothers Band. Energy was at fever pitch, the air was thick and heavy with the party, and as Bert brought on the band on with a reference to St. Patty's Day, the crowd was particularly rowdy, boisterous-- and primed. So let me not leave you hanging: tonight the Allman Brothers brung it. It was fierce, it was foreboding, it was tart, it was BIG, it was manly, and it was in the house.
So we get another Yang show, another hard-driving, blow-you-back-in-your seat affair. It was one of those shows where the band is almost a force of nature. I started thinking about the yin/yang concept, the two sides of the band, after Monday and Tuesday's shows, so I asked around about it. A friend says: "Yin represents everything about the world that is dark, hidden, passive, receptive, yielding, cool, soft, and feminine. Yang represents everything about the world that is illuminated, evident, active, aggressive, controlling, hot, hard, and masculine." Every Allman Brothers Band show, of course, does time in both polarities. But for the second night in a row, the aggressive, hot, hard, masculine tenor of the night made this a Yang bang.
First the set list, so you kids can follow along at home. Light on the old favorites, but heavy on the new favorites-- "Egypt," "Hiding Place," "Splinters, "Desdemona,"
and "Who's Been Talkin'" are all highlights. A set list crafted, to be sure, for the cognoscenti.
The band snaps right into an brisk "Done Somebody Wrong." Derek plays a biting solo; it is a groovy, bouncy version of the song, riding along the crest of the beat instead of hitting the stop time hard. Warren plays some long lanky slide runs.
"Gilded Splinters," the second time out this run, is again a highlight. The band stays deep in the groove. Derek peels off icy glass sheets as the band has assimilated their own brand of the blues into the Creole spice of this song. Then Warren and Derek trade nasty licks on what is one nasty read of this tune.
Right out of "Splinters," Oteil is bouncing around the room on the familiar bassline that shortly resolves itself into "Wasted Words," when the guitars and keyboard join in for the emphatic melodic take on the three-beat part (the instrumental triplet over which Gregg later sings "wasted words!") that announces the song. Derek tosses off an icy hot solo.
Three songs in, and everything feels a bit flat, discordant, musky, minor-key. There is almost a sonic fog, and no, I'm not drunk. It is a coloration the band will bring to most of the night, just right for the hard-edged blues. At the end of "Wasted Words," Warren begins playing so furiously and rhythmically on his solo that he evokes the "Gilded Splinters" vibe; soon Derek engages him, and the two are hitting it so hard that they could easily segue back to "Gilded Splinters" if they wanted. Finally you remember what song they are actually playing when the guitarists lean hard into the "Wasted Words" harmonic lines and drive the song home.
Next, Warren leads the band through a howlin', muddy take on "Hiding Place." If you don't know this one, basically its an old Chess blues classic, only Warren wrote it. Out of the vocals Gregg's gospel organ solo is bad to the bone. Warren pinches off sourpuss lines on his solo. And that's when it hits me, the show is shaping up like a sour ball. It is tart, the lemon one makes you purse your lips. But none of this stops you from eating the whole bag. And the sourness is leavened with enough bluesy sweetness to make the medicine go down.
Warren plays some tart licks out of the bridge. The blues throb on the one chord pulsates throughout the house. Next the band eases into "Come and Go Blues," a first for the run. I thought I heard a crossed signal before the instrumental mid-section, but maybe that was just me. Warren plays the most melodic solo of the night so far, all too quickly coming to a touch down. Then the band sashays into the moody, pretty intro to "Egypt," which is already an established set piece.
Derek takes the first solo out of the structured part of the song, and his playing is jazzy and fluid. Soon, though, his strings are making a metallic cry for mercy. Warren, without slide, rains down big teardrop notes. Warren's tone is clipped and round. Suddenly you feel a swell in your chest, your throat. It is Oteil. The floor begins to hum. Oteil and Warren gallop off. Derek joins in, strumming furiously, in that way he and Warren have of making the rhythm guitar into a lead instrument, as his left hand darts along the neck and alights for the shortest of stops, spelling out different chord shapes across the fret board. Warren takes off on a tough solo, then signals the transition to the rest of the band, and they make their way easily back into the bed of chords that defines the melody.
"Egypt" is a highlight pretty much every time it is played. Oteil said he was thinking back to the band's classic instrumentals when he wrote it, and it shows. But it is uniquely a vehicle for this line-up, for these players, and while it is true in spirit to the old classics, it apes none of them. Maybe you can say it mines a "Liz Reed" vibe, if you absolutely had to. But only sorta.
Gregg and the band begin the old nugget "It Just Aint Easy," the song's second appearance of the run and a welcome addition to the set. After a graceful intro, Gregg growls out the verse; again, the song sounds entirely new. Warren plays a chiming, elegant solo. Gregg's vocals are outstanding, and the guitarists play the song with an entirely different flair than the original version.
Out of "It Just Aint Easy," the band goes into some into some lazy-day shuffle time. Derek plays some counter-shuffle lead, and Warren shreds over the top. It is a funky, extended jam that could easily be "The Same Thing," until they come around the bend and the song resolves into "Who's Been Talkin.'" They wrap around that song's riff, but still the intro jam goes on, an extended and blissful workout. Finally Warren signals the band with an exclamation point of a note and steps to the mic: "My baby caught a train..." His vocal delivery, as well as his shredding guitar work, is just killer. At the end of a white hot blues solo, as he returns to the verse, Warren is ministered to by Farmer, who brings him another guitar, and I realize, lord, he must have just played that with a broken string. (I'd know for sure if only I could keep my eyes open on the great parts.) Derek plays some tasty slide-- Warren has gone with fingers and picks most of the set-- and Derek absolutely smolders, before seemingly deciding he's had enough, and tossing the ball back to Warren, who plays a brief lead and then finishes the vocals. On the outro Warren sprays bursts, while Derek swoops. Derek's lines echo Warren's final vocal line ("I'm the causin' of it all"); underneath, as the band brings it down, down, Warren rubs out repeated, tiny glassy chords with his nails. Outstanding.
A rollicking "Statesboro Blues" brings the set to a joyous close, a warm familiar pay-off to the dark, deep sour mash blues highlighted by "Hiding Place, "Who's Been Talkin'", and the 1-2 opener of "Done Somebody Wrong" and "Gilded Splinters," leavened a tad with the graceful "Egypt" and "It Just Aint Easy." Even the normally wistful 'Wasted Words" is biting and tart.
(Between sets I compliment Warren on "Who's Been Talkin'." He laughs deeply and cackles. "You liked that one, eh?" He asks. A rhetorical question; we both know they brought the mojo.)
Gregg opens the acoustic set with "Please Call Home," a touching highlight perhaps not fully appreciated by a crowd that has been drinking green beer since the morning. "Delta Blue," which seemed a tad tentative a week ago, is now rocked by Gregg with grit and confidence. He introduces "These Days" with a simple, "This song was written by a friend of mine." You float gently away on Warren's beautifully crafted acoustic solo. Next Derek and Warren favor us with a dark, moody love song, Son House's "Death Letter."
The electric set begins auspiciously with "Key to the Highway," which immediately swings like a porch swing in eight bars. Gregg sings the first verse; Warren bites and snarls and screams on his solo, then takes the next verse. Then Derek squawks and squonks on his solo, then makes his way with the slide all the way up the fret board, where he camps out at the top a while. This gives way to Derek and Warren taking leads together, taking one big solo, playing with, at, with, at, each other. All the while, right in the pocket of the eight-bar swing. Their dual duel pulls the crowd up and elicits a collective "Woo!" Gregg sings, then the merry-go-round continues, now Derek shredding on guitar. Finally the song that goes on and on and 'round and 'round is done.
Next up is an assertive "Leave My Blues at Home." The song continues a welcome change in the set pacing, as it gives way to the drum solo; with the drums coming somewhat earlier in the set than usual this run, possibilities seem to open up on the flip side. The drums wash over you in rolling, undulating, tribal waves. Familiar shapes and sound patterns reverberate throughout the hall. Marc surfs the wave as the other players return; Oteil layers in some snappy, rubbery bottom. The band falls in one by one, into a snaky, jazzy melody with hints of "Leave My Blues" before transitioning hard into the ringing twin riff that chases the song home.
Things go from heavy to heavier with "Rocking Horse." Immediately it is the deep sour whomp. Warren unleashes an aggressive in-your-face solo that takes absolutely no crap; then a sticky, dank transition over to Derek, who of course starts where he is. The band pulls all the way back and Derek is soloing over just the drums. Oteil joins, playing some soft-touch, deft, light notes; then going all heavy rumbly. Warren's hands seem to instinctively move toward the strings by themselves, and soon he is joining in on rhythm. Deep into his solo, Derek actually takes his hands OFF the guitar, for a full beat, two beats, three, a measure. I remember something Oteil said: Derek is more comfortable with silence than any musician he's ever played with. When Derek touches the strings again, he is on fire, tearing it up. He has gone from zero to 180 in the blink of an ear. His solo tumbles hard into the melodic line that signals a return to the riff and Warren's closing vocal section.
Right out of the "Horse," Warren peels off the high hanging note that heralds "Desdemona," and it is so exquisite, so welcome a release that the place is screaming (It does the heart good to hear a Hittin' the Note tune elicit such a favorable response.) Gregg is deeply emotive on his vocals, then Derek takes his first solo spot, tonight (not surprisingly given the energy level) avoiding the raindrops on roses. His solo is jazz-inflected and pure Derek, tenor sax channeled through slide guitar.
Warren takes "Desdemona" right back to "Rocking Horse" on his solo, playing a fierce lead part that is one long cascade of pure release. Of course, he bleeds it perfectly into the melody of the verse.
While we're all trying to catch our breath, the band struts into "Revival." The sentiment is the perfect one to walk off to; love is indeed everywhere. The perfect punctuation mark to the show.
Dick Griffin joins in for a "One Way Out" encore. He makes with the elephant talk on his first solo; then Warren thoughtfully douses the fire with gasoline. A brief Derek, Warren, Dick call and response (and response), then a quick cut back to the riff, and out.
There was a devilish smile on Warren's face as he waved to the crowd. It was a hot one, and they knew it.
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
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|3/18/05 The Beacon
Trouble No More
Woman Across The River
Old Before My Time
Hoochie Coochie Man
When The Blues Come A-Knockin'1
Blues is Alright1,2 (no Derek)
Oncoming Traffic (Gregg on piano)
These Days (Gregg and Warren)
Preachin' Blues (Warren and Derek)
Ain't Wastin' Time No More
Black Hearted Woman>drums>bass>Black Hearted Woman
1w/Little Milton - Vocals, Guitar
2w/Susan Trucks - Vocals, Guitar
The band opens with "Midnight Rider," a very nice use of this song in the setlist. "Midnight Rider" is a song that they play essentially the same way each time out, and that seems to make it work especially well as an opener. The familiar guitar lines become an invocation. It is instantly recognizable to everybody, and it sets the stage for whatever may follow...
...which tonight, if we are to be literal, is "Trouble No More." The band rides right into this song out of the opener. Some tangy Derek work, then Gregg's vocals, then the riff comes to the fore, than the vocals. After the intro to "Standback," the guy next to me comments, "Its oldies night." It is a solid 1-2-3 punch, delivered almost as one song with three movements. The band stops to make space for Oteil, and he surprises by playing a lick very much unlike the "Standback" bassline you were expecting. On the outro, Derek provides the first guitar orgasm of the night. (At this point the guy next to me asks what I just wrote about Derek. I read him that last sentence. He smiles and puts his hands up; he's decided I don't need any help.)
Warren goes to the Gibson 335 and favors us with "Woman Across the River" in his early first-set slot. He opens up with a restrained (for him) solo; Gregg darts across the keys on an organ solo, then Warren embraces the vocals. The band's eyes are on Derek as he builds a rousing, up-tempo solo; then back into the vocals. At his solo's end, Warren raises his arm, apparently in acknowledgement of Derek; if I didn't know better, I'd have thought Derek was smiling.
Warren accents his own vocals with long guitar lines between and just underneath phrases; at the end of the vocal section he hits one long hanging one that becomes the first note of his powerful blues solo; then he and Derek are trading leads, then like flipping a switch, Oteil heavy underneath, Derek on rhythm, and Warren on lead are one, propelling the song to the finish line.
Warren plays some beautifully emotive slide on "Old Before My Time." On the outro, Warren plays some deliberate, deep fried slide; then Derek picks up seamlessly as if playing the second half of one long solo. Derek hangs a sweet fat one, then bends it right back into his solo.
The first "Hoochie Coochie Man" of the run featured no introductory slide duel. Tonight, the two guitarists do an abbreviated one, going a single round each, then the thunder that leads into the insistent cadence of the song, and Warren's vocal. Derek carries the ball into the verse; Warren plays a high, scratchy solo out of the first vocal section and into the next. Derek leaves glassy trails as he flies up the fret board.
Warren steps to the mic after the song is done and says that "Every night we've had at least one special guest;" he proceeds, I am almost certain, to bring on "the late Little Milton." (I'm sure he meant great. Unless of course he was due sooner.) Milton, on vocals and ax, is set up center stage between Warren and Derek. He is pure showman, turned out in a slick suit that says the blues had a baby and they named it Vegas. The band swings-- and I mean SWINGS, Jack!-- into what I think believe is the song, "When the Blues Come a Knockin'." If I have it right, it is on the album by John Jaworowitcz and the Blues Co-op that also happens to feature "Just Before the Bullets Fly" and "Who to Believe." In any case it is, as I say, an up-tempo, totally swingin' number. Milton (or as his friends call him, Little) plays a nice, easy-paced solo; then Derek plays long, curvy, happy lines. Warren stays right in the pocket, playing clipped notes, and then Milton plays an extended, melodic solo; "restraint" is the watchword, the man is in no hurry. Gregg plays some tasty organ to take us out.
Next up is "Soulshine," a song on which Milton appears in its Deep End incarnation. Marc, who doesn't play on this one, seems comfy sitting to Oteil's left on the edge of the stage. Warren steps off stage a moment during Gregg's opening vocal salvo; he's back in time for his verse. Milton enters well on the solo break, with a high ringing phrase. Warren comes in using a low down octave that hits you right in the belly. Then a climbing, three-man vocal that sounds somehow like 3,000. Then Derek draws applause on his very first sunburst notes; eventually he hits one that lofts straight up. Milton plays out of Derek's solo, tasteful and economical in his phrasing.
Derek leaves the stage to make room for his lovely bride, and Susan has her sea-blue telecaster. Milton introduces the "international blues anthem of the world," and leads the band into "The Blues is Alrignt." Milton's playing is in a very BB-like place. On the refrain-- "Hey, hey, the blues is alright!"-- Susan makes her way to Milton's mic to add her responses to his calls. Milton hands off to Warren, who has some barrelhouse good fun on his solo. Susan's solo sounds the perfect note-- her style works with Milton in a way it might not with, say, "Rocking Horse"-- and she elicits Milton's acknowledgement, and applause from the crowd, as she finishes. Warren hits a solo, Milton finishes up the vocals-- of course the whole house is shouting "Hey, hey" with him-- and as the band plays out, Milton waves, hands his ax off to Farmer, and he's off the stage. He's the consummate showman; the band behind him aint exactly chopped liver. After Elvis has left the building, Warren turns it up a notch or three, as he and Susan trade leads on an extended play-out. (For a brief moment I wonder if I could send my wife in to do my job...) The energy is hyped, Susan goes toe to toe with Warren, and they drive the song to its conclusion.
Marc lays down the Latin-tinged metallic rhythm that has come to announce "Egypt." The sweet chords fill the air, Warren and Derek treat us to some trademark dual lines on the slow, bubbling theme. The rhythm section hits some stop time, the theme has been stated, and now we're off. As Derek's solo unfolds, you wonder what his brain thinks of the colorful, impressionistic picture his hands are painting. His solo is kind of blue. Then Warren and Derek together take it up to eleven. Warren then solos over a sparse backdrop, beginning in jazzy space, his linear ringing solo pulling the music onward. Warren takes the music into a Mule kind of place, then brings it down into the chords, where they linger before a twin guitar finale, to song and set.
The two folkish songs ("Midnight Rider," "Old Before My Time"), the Little Milton spot, and the "Egypt" touchdown make this a Yin set, laid back and welcoming, as opposed to the hard-charging rough and tumble attack of the two previous shows. And one approach is not better than the other; it is yin and yang, the two sides of the Allman Brothers Band coin.
Of course the acoustic portion of set two continues in this vein, Gregg favoring us tonight with "Oncoming Traffic," but foregoing his second number. "These Days" seems especially compelling tonight given the context of the show. Derek breaks a string during "Preachin' Blues," but quickly switches guitars, and by song's end Warren has stopped playing and Derek is making all the music, his slide stepping into the cracks between Warren's vocal lines. In a band with seven players, one inevitably learns the skill of NOT playing; Warren's stopping gives Derek a chance to shine, and his slide work here is spectacular.
Derek plays some breezy, springtime lines at the start of "Aint Wastin' Time No More," getting his broken-string guitar (his main SG) back during Gregg's first vocal section. Layers of color float over you on Warren's note-hitting solo.
The band thunders into "Black Hearted Woman." Given the recent pacing, this figures to be the drum solo song, and it is a good choice. These up-tempo numbers-- "Black Hearted Woman," last night's "Leave My Blues at Home," "Rocking Horse"-- make, I think, better (or at least different) drum vehicles than the languid instrumentals, because on a song like this, when the other players stop and walk off, the energy is already at fever pitch. You realize that there's already a pretty propulsive 3-man drum solo going on underneath all the playing. The drummers can now ride the flow instead of first composing it, and so the drum solo feels more immediate, more urgent. (Of course some nights immediacy is not the goal.)
Indeed the drummers start out surfing the wave; "Black Hearted Woman" leaves them with enough forward momentum that they need merely to keep it going. Of course though, they do more than that. I notice that the light show during the drums is outstanding; I don't usually have my eyes open if I'm not observing or jotting down notes, but the length and groove of the drum section, coupled with the theme of the black hearted woman, provide Chris and the guys (shout out to the Brotherhood!) with a rich palate.
Oteil joins his compadres, turning the drums into a gallop. But he does not take his own solo; soon the twin guitars snarl out the lead, and the band slams back into the song.
From the ashes of "Black Hearted Woman," suddenly "Mountain Jam" rises like a Phoenix. Derek's lines before the song are exquisite. I realize that I have no idea what they're going to do with this song, or even if I'm hearing the first half or the second. Anyway, forgive me here, but I decided to close my eyes and take some time for myself; believe me, you would have too... I hear Derek, making his slide sound like a whistle... later on he fills the middle of your head with shrill bliss... Gregg does his thing on organ...
Warren chimes, and does the hippy hippy shake on his extended solo. He closes by driving a bluesy stake into the ground, and the band circles down around it. Derek is making bird calls (at least I hope they were birds.) And we have eased into... Oteil's solo spot. Lovely idea; two extended numbers, break up the drum section from the bass section. The band remains on stage as Oteil begins with some deep notes, then segues into lighter-flavored chording. He works the frets, then offers up a rich bed for the soloists to enter over, and there is some tasty and precise playing on the march section...
Derek glides across the neck as Warren provides some urgent chording. Then Warren plays a slow, majestic lead, and hands off to Derek, who plays the second half of Warren's solo, but adds slide to the mix (Warren has played very little slide all night.) Derek plays a brief sequence of remarkably perfect notes to bring the march section to a stop. Then back into the theme that both begins and ends the piece.
I use these words a lot when I write about this band, and I wish I could find some new ones, but I keep returning to them because they are just the right words. "Mountain Jam" is a thing of power, majesty, and grace. It is a testimony to their collective musicianship that they have played just two songs in almost an hour, and the crowd remains at the edge of their seats. Because there are bands that could play 30 songs, 40, and still not cover as much musical ground as this one just did.
Jaimoe and Marc have switched kits for the encore, and there is a brief interlude of a drum solo, reminiscent of the one that opens "Gilded Splinters," before the rollicking "Southbound" kicks in. With no guests to rotate in, the song hits a higher note than usual (indeed I cannot remember the last time I heard this without guests). Derek is on fire on his solo-- it seems almost too easy for him-- and then a piercing note announces Warren, who burns, pulling at the strings. Derek takes it up a notch, so Warren does as well. Derek hits an exclamatory note that leads into the vocals, then those signature twin licks as the band dashes to the finish. When they get there, you are basking in your happy place.
Much like Monday was more the feminine, yin side of this music and Tuesday was more a heavy, manly yang, so too were Thursday and Friday a yang/yin affair, in reverse order. Milton, Susan, and the choice of material contributed to the yin vibe. I am beginning to think that the band's ability to operate in both spheres, and to move seamlessly between the two, is one of their great strengths.
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
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|3/19/05 The Beacon
Done Somebody Wrong
End of the Line
Maydell (no Marc)
Every Hungry Woman
Don't Think Twice1
Feels so Bad1,2 (no Derek)
Blues is alright2
No One left to Run With
Please Call Home (Gregg on piano)
Oncoming Traffic (Gregg on piano)
These days ( Gregg and Warren)
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed3 >
Drums>Bass>Drums4>Liz Reed (~40 minutes)
One Way Out5
Encore: Whipping Post
1w/Susan Trucks - Vocals, Guitar
2w/Little Milton - Vocals, Guitar
3w/Ron Holloway - Sax
5w/Yonrico Scott - Drums (no Jiamoe)
The second Saturday of the run is the exclamation point night, the night
when the most out-of-towners convene on the Beacon. And of course
the band knows it and is primed accordingly.
anticipation becomes a tangible cloud as Gregg again tinkles out a
"Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" tease; clearly some kind of
inside joke, because he's done it twice now. Then, bam!
"Hot 'Lanta," and there they are, in full force. Gregg
plays some nice variations on B3. Derek plays a piercing solo, then
a more clipped solo. At the end, the drummers infuse some whirling
dervish dash into the melody.
is perfect from the very first riff of "Done Somebody Wrong."
He fires off a salvo, and he's just swinging like he’s in a hammock.
The take is more groovular, and less the stop-time shuffle. Derek
plays a slashing solo-- this is his song now-- and then Gregg goes into
the closing vocal section. On the outro the band is back into the
stop time playing, hitting the beats hard, behind one big, fat hanging
"End of the Line,"
plays some pretty, cascading lines, then Derek peels off a squealing lead.
Oteil digs in and anchors the riff, and Derek takes off against it.
He strikes a discordant note that is resolved as Derek and the band
fall back toward each other. Derek's nouvelle twang takes us out.
song, and the band kicks into "Maydell." It is a Saturday-night,
good-time version with upbeat guitar work. On "Every Hungry
Woman," Oteil provides the thunderation, Warren and Derek push the
music onward with quickly-traded licks. Big sheets of music seem to
emanate from the front line. Oteil totally "feels"
's searing, pinched slide; he is bending side to side with the music,
literally at the waist. Oteil
has become a swinging human metronome.
Derek keeps the energy going; then he and
trade licks, and finally come together for the twin harmony lines.
Tedeschi comes onstage for a mini-spotlight section.
First, “Don’t Think Twice,” the beautiful virtual duet with
Derek. Derek’s sweet round
slide lines compliment and contrast with Susan’s throaty vocals.
Derek imbues the melody with a sense of wistful melancholy.
Then Little Milton takes the stage for a return engagement, and
Susan stays out, in Derek’s spot, for “Feel So Bad.”
The opening riff of the song is immediately recognizable, and it is
a welcome choice.
leads the band on the intro section, then Gregg sings the first vocal
(or as his friends call him, Little) takes the second verse, ceasing his
guitar work as he sings. Then
a rousing round robin of solos; Susan is up first, and she totally cuts.
’s solo is economical and spot on.
Gregg sings, then
, then some hand clapping that is picked up by he crowd.
Alas, Susan doesn’t get a verse.
up is “Stormy Monday,” a song that always feels like a warm bath as
soon as the opening chords are struck.
Gregg sings the first verse, then
takes a verse.
’s vocals give way to some sweet
guitar lines; this song is definitely in his zone, in a way that the
band’s more hard-driving material might not be.
Derek is back, and he cuts the slices extra thick on his solo, big
fat juicy notes filling the hall. Gregg’s
organ playing is present and soulful; his solo is a highlight.
It gives way to
’s stinging, slightly wobbly, beautiful solo on the 335.
milks out one more sweet solo over the chord progression before the band
moves back into the final verse. A
perfect vehicle for Little Milton, and a highlight.
up is what I gather is Little Milton’s signature song, “The Blues is
Alright,” the only repeat from the previous night’s
sit-in. The man simply oozes
show biz. The band is
percolating on the beats; he has clearly brought his “A” game.
It is a different game than the Allman Brothers Band generally
plays; far more polished and refined, more mainstream.
But still, it is the blues. The
ease with which they find common ground is noteworthy.
plays a precise, economical solo; then Derek is right in the pocket on a
relatively straightforward (for him) blues solo.
’s rhythm playing dances along with the shuffle, leading back into his
sing-along vocals (“Hey! Hey!
The blues is alright!”)
breaks into a wide smile as
soaks up the crowd’s response, takes off his guitar, and leaves the
stage before the song is over. Immediately Warren and Derek turn things up
to a boil on a quick volley, and then out.
One Left to Run With” closes the set, a hard driving version courtesy of
the drum section. Derek soars
high above the “shave and a haircut, two bits” shuffle.
to part two,” says Gregg as he launches into the delicious “Please
Call Home,” and follows it with “Oncoming Traffic.”
While some may criticize the decision to begin the second set with
an acoustic interlude, Gregg’s easy banter with the crowd, and his
obvious joy in delivering his two solo numbers each night, tends to leave
at least one reviewer wanting more (for those loathe to read between the
lines, that would be me.) “These
Days,” which they have played every night so far, has been getting
steadily better, and it started good.
What began as a Gregg tune backed by
has by tonight evolved into a splendid and moving duet,
’s vocal harmonies enriching the lyric, and Gregg’s adventurousness on
acoustic guitar enriching the music.
Tonight it seems especially poignant;
’s elegiac guitar work is lovely, and Gregg seems to take an extra pause
after the line, “Don’t confront me with my failures,” lending it
that much more gravity.
acoustic set is truncated tonight, as the band skips the Warren/Derek duet
slot and moves, after everyone is assembled and settled, into a smoking
read on “Elizabeth Reed.” Frequent
Mule guest Ron Holloway sits in on sax.
After some nice two-guitar explorations, the band locks onto the
theme, and then the first solo is Holloway, brassy, biting.
Oteil smiles at him, offers up some bass phrases, as
directs traffic in Derek’s direction.
Derek crafts a mellifluous solo, playing happy games with the
melody, bending it like Einstein bent time.
He embarks on a melodic climb that is sheer, in-the-moment be-bop.
Derek is doing what he does best—forcing himself away from the
melodic structure of the song so that he has to play in the now, with no
time for his brain to get between his ears and fingers.
Soon Derek’s blistering lead is indistinguishable from
’s accompanying, equally fast chording.
Gregg takes the spotlight; he percolates like he’s good to the
is totally grooving on a Holloway sax lead, which reaches a crescendo,
from whence a
is tossing off notes like he’s bailing water.
Oteil locks onto him, then trades lines with Holloway, as the band
descends into drums…
is some high-end, trebly stop time, becoming a bold brassy beat with the
cymbals riding high on top. All
three drummers are affecting the collective beast by varying the waves of
sound each sends forth. There
is a drum roll-call and response. Some
nights, the drum solo is a living, breathing organism, responding in real
time to the care and feeding each player provides; this is clearly one of
those nights. Butch tosses in
the rhythm he does that is reminiscent of the Dead’s “The Other
One,” the beast morphs accordingly.
begin to feel a rumble on the bottom.
It is Oteil, who emerges from the shadows and drops his calling
card into the mix. Soon the
drums recede, and Oteil is on the 6-string, offering up “Amazing
Grace.” Oteil’s faith
informs his playing in the most joyous ways imaginable.
He moves from chords to barrages of notes, generally reminiscent of
George Benson’s guitar style. At
one point he seems to be teasing the melody to the Yes song
“Roundabout;” but that can’t be right-- can it?
Soon his brother Kofi joins on flute, the drums return, and Kofi
trills beautiful bird-like lines that ride the bass/drum groove, a groove
that is distinctly not “Elizabeth Reed.”
The band returns, and Oteil thunders into the riff, as Kofi points
to him with the flute.
song—including the drum section and the Oteil spotlight—has been a
seamless journey, dark, mysterious, powerful, and like so many of this
band’s excursions, ending in the place they started, but somehow
relatively early appearance of the drum solo this run seems to open up the
possibilities for the rest of the set.
“Dreams” is the perfect follow-up, right in the “Liz Reed”
vibe zone. Holloway stays
out, and he takes the first solo, before the vocals.
Derek is like a razor’s edge, underneath, around him.
Gregg delivers the opening portion of the vocals, taking us to the
precipice, And that is Derek’s cue.
He squeezes off full, languid lines, extended, graceful.
It is a sublime piece of work.
presses him forward, and Derek continues his narrative.
He ends up unleashing a furious attack of high blue slide.
brings the band back into waltz time for the final movement.
gives way to Yonrico Scott, and it seems as if
is calling an audible, leading the band into “Rocking Horse,” a blast
of intensity after the moody combo of “Liz Reed” and “Dreams.”
On his solo, he gets to that place where the one hand is strumming
madly, but the other hand is fretting out a lead.
After the transition riff Derek starts off in Birdland, taking his
time on be-bop slide blues guitar (sometimes the faster
plays, the faster Derek doesn’t.) He
deliberately moves his glass slide across the neck. But soon, and so
masterfully you don’t realize how he’s done it, he is playing at
breakneck pace; his solo is the sound of steel and glass, superheated
until they have bonded chemically into one.
joins for the transition riff that takes us back to earth and the finish
of the song; then immediately the band is into the glorious release of
“One Way Out.” It is
pure, boogie-shoes pay-off, a joyous romp, featuring some lunch box blues
has been a relatively long show—the “Elizabeth Reed” was a
marathon—but if you’re paying even a little bit of attention, you have
no doubt at all that “Whipping Post” is coming up as encore.
The band enters the song all dark and foreboding.
Derek shreds between vocal passages.
strikes a note that resonates at the exact frequency of the Beacon
Theater, then takes off on the melody, touching back to it, plowing away.
The whole band falls into the zone behind him.
and Derek play furiously into the song’s signature march sequence, then
Gregg sing/shouts the “Sometimes I FEEL” line.
It is an exclamation point for an exclamation point night.
real barn burner, a true Saturday night show; there is nothing subtle
about the assault of the second set after the acoustic portion. Looking
back, it is almost hard to imagine that this was the same night you saw
Little Milton. From
“Elizabeth Reed” on, this was wave after wave of bluesy pummeling and
release. It feels so good
when it stops. And better
when it doesn’t.
Reviewer: Josh Chasin
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|3/21/05 The Beacon
You Don't Love Me
Statesboro Blues (w/washboard player)
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down1
Into The Mystic1
Come and Go Blues2
All Night Train2
Little Martha (Warren and Derek)
Les Brers In A Minor
Good Clean Fun
I've Got Dreams To Remember1
Can't Lose What You Never Had2
Encore 1: Southbound1,4,5
Encore 2: Layla2
1w/Asbury Juke Horns
2w/ Chuck Leavell - Piano
3w/Jimmy Cobb - Drums for Jaimoe
4w/Page McConnell - Keys
5w/Matt Abts - Drums for Jaimoe
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|3/22/05 The Big House
Benefit @ The Beacon
The Allman Brothers Band
Don't Want You No More>
It's Not My Cross to Bear
Ain't Wastin' Time No More
Woman Across the River
One Way Out2,3
Encore: In Memory of Elizabeth Reed1,4
1w/Chuck Leavell - Piano
2w/Berry Oakley Jr. - Bass
3Johnny Neel - Piano
4w/Trey Anastasio - Guitar
Government Mule (Download
Via Bit Torrent Now-Gatto Pull)
Time To Confess
About To Rage
I'm A Ram
Ain't No Sunshine Intro>
Blind Man In The Dark
1w/Chuck Leavell - Piano
The Derek Trucks Band (Download
Sahib Teri Bandi
To Know You Is To Love You
For My Brother
My Favorite Things
Oteil and The Peace-Makers
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