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Allman Brothers Band
Beacon Theatre 10-28-14

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One of the finest performances EVER of the best damn band in the land!  Here is Josh Chasin's excellent review of the last night:

My friend Johnny Allen, a New York City blues musician, once told me that the best compliment he ever got after a set was when someone told him, “You take away our pain, and you give back love.” This is the essence of the appeal of the blues; it is why the music is so transformative and redemptive, and why such sad music can keep making you feel so good. By making your deepest inner pain discrete and overt and universal, somehow the blues lets you dispense with the pain, and the place the pain vacates ends up filled with a warm white light—with, yeah, love.

For forty-five years, across decades and generations and line-ups, the Allman Brothers Band have been taking away our pain and giving back love. Tonight they take us down to the river one last time. For those of us who have come to see their concerts as a kind of church, it is a profoundly sad occasion, and the anticipation around what will certainly be an epic show is leavened by the bitter sense of impending loss. But we’ll deal with that tomorrow. Tonight, we dance…

…the legacy of the Allman Brothers Band is, of course, steeped in the gospel of the original band, and specifically of Duane Allman. But for me, the current line-up—together uninterrupted for thirteen years—is the second great incarnation of the band. Wisely, they have made the decision to keep these final six shows to just the seven band members, none of the famous Beacon sit-ins. It is a way to make these shows not just about the 45-year legacy, but very specifically about this line-up, which is wholly fitting. This is my band, these seven guys, and this victory lap is more than well-deserved…

This is clearly the hottest ticket of the season. On the sidewalk outside the Beacon, and a block in either direction, everywhere you look the miracle fingers are wagging. Inside the house, the electric buzz is palpable, a heavy dew hanging in the air. The whispers are that the band has booked the place till 2AM for the final blow-out, which just adds to the intense anticipation, so it’s not surprising when they don’t come on till 8:55.

Immediately the two guitar players are offering up an exquisite “Little Martha,” but just a taste, about a minute’s worth, and eminently fitting… then Butch’s timpani sweeps us away into “Mountain Jam.” Ninety seconds in, and they’ve already found the note. Derek is a man with a purpose, providing some lovely exploration up and down the neck. Then, after a brief spot of the “Jam,” straight into their quintessential opener, “Don’t Want You No More.” “OK,” I think to myself, “that’s how it’s gonna be.” Crisp, spot on, and at the top of their game. Tonight they will take no prisoners. Warren’s swinging rhythm brings the song to its inevitable conclusion, the transition to the juicy blues of “Not My Cross to Bear.” For one final time, Warren wrings out the nasty. Then right into “One Way Out,” before finally coming to the first full stop, five songs in. The crowd erupts, happiness abounds.

“Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” gives new meaning to the word “snaky.” Warren chimes, then a big skronky solo that seems to breathe. Then he leans into some heated, perfect blues over the wobbly vamp. Faster, faster, they twist the dial so far past 10 that it snaps off—then bam! They flip on a dime back to the snaky refrain. Jaimoe and Marc have switched kits mid-song, Jaimoe now over stage left by Oteil, and Warren brings the slow grind over to them for the wind-out. It’s not one of the classic rock staples from the first five records, it’s not even on an official album. But it’s a stone cold highlight.

The last “Midnight Rider” ever has more than a few big, burly tough guys tearing up. Then “High Cost of Low Living,” the only song of the night off this line-up’s sole studio recording. It’s a folk song with a pretty and wistful outro, which Derek nails, putting it to bed with a big cup of hot chocolate and a kiss on the forehead. Warren’s solo on “Hot ‘Lanta” is so spot on it bends you almost 90 degrees from the waist.

And now, “Blue Sky.” For all the will-they-or-won’t-they drama in the press and the message boards around the question of Dickey Betts sitting in, this song—the most quintessential Betts tune still in the repertoire—is magnificent. Derek sparkles, but Warren is just outsize, fills your head with joy, bobs it around. Love is everywhere in the ovation that inevitably erupts at song’s end. It is, you cannot help but ponder, the last time the Allman Brothers are going to play “Blue Sky.” There is a distinctly mixed bag of emotions in the room—the elation the music brings, leavened by the sadness of that finality. Perhaps no song all night exemplifies the paradoxical dynamic as clearly as this one does.

“You “Don’t Love Me” has been a revelation this week; tonight is the fourth time they’ve played it. After a quick run through the core of the song, the band slows, till they are totally still and the only sound is Derek, playing the licks to ‘Soul Serenade,” then gently strumming those gorgeous chords. The band falls in and it’s pure soul. Then Warren solos over the shuffle jam, and he and Derek go at each other like two slow freight trains. It’s a fabulous highlight. The band is clearly having a blast.

And that, unbelievably, is just the first set.

“Statesboro Blues” begins the second set featuring a lot of Derek; then Derek soars like a gentle buzz saw on “Aint Wastin’ Time No More.” Suddenly the music seems huge… so it’s fitting that the huge “Black Hearted Woman” is up next. It’s the night’s first “fire hose” song, wherein the two guitarists spew hot searing molten fire in tandem. The music runs round and round, relentless, but with Swiss precision. The transition lick into the “Other One” jam, Derek harnesses exploding shards of glass, as the band drives relentlessly forward, tumbling end-over-end to the close. Wow. No one else makes this kind of racket. Damn it, I’m going to miss them.

“The Sky is Crying” is a dose of the old this-is-almost-too-easy, 12-bar blues. Warren’s vocals are full of woe. Derek goes all small, playing the perfect spaces between the silences; catcalls rain down from the balcony… Derek kicks it up, scratching that place in your brain where sad and happy meet.

Then, one last time, a waltz with Derek through “Dreams.” His solo is of course divine; I surf away on elastic, shimmering, silvery waves of joy, then the tempo shifts to summon me back. There is something about the way this song hits when you’re there in the theater, and it’s big and loud, and we’ve just returned form the extended solo, and the band goes through the movements, the stops and starts and dynamic shifts, that comprise the song’s final climax. It is so brilliantly structured, and such a perfect vehicle for their ensemble talents. This may be the one I will miss most.

"Don’t Keep Me Wondering” follows, but frankly I’ve still got the “Dreams” goo all over me… then a full stop, and the players begin making ‘Liz Reed” noises, sprinkling indigo droplets. Jaimoe’s light touch is to the fore as the drummers stretch the tension, then the band seamlessly rolls over into the gently rocking “Elizabeth Reed” beginning. Warren squeezes, teases out eerie, indigo arcs of tone, slowly blowing up the melody from the inside, before finally hitting on the main theme. Warren’s underrated but monstrous rhythm playing drives Derek’s frantic attack; Derek’s left hand is a blur. Warren vibrates the room with a big, fat hanging note, then Gregg enters slow against twin-guitar chording. Oteil bubbles up from the bottom as Warren embarks, and the two of them square off, trading lines. Warren rips it up, then closes with an exclamation point of a run through the theme, giving way to Oteil, who lays on some of his patented jazz-funk over percussion and finally just the drummers… The drums wash over you like cool water pounding the rocks as it rushes through river rapids... Soon the rest of the band is back out, with Derek’s rhythm leading the charge through the return to theme and close.

It’s now about midnight, but Gregg announces they’ll be back for one more set.
The third set begins with a lovely rendition of “Melissa,” then an upbeat and jaunty 1-2 punch of “Revival” and “Southbound.” Then, the inevitable return to “Mountain Jam.” Oteil rocks a little “Birdland” under Derek’s thick lines of fire. Warren wanders over to Oteil and consults with him; Oteil nods yes, then Warren solos a good four minutes on a melody that is not “Mountain Jam.” All goes still… Derek begins playing a slow “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” the song they’ve managed to insert each night this week. Derek tosses sweet lines at Greg like a lyrical gauntlet; Gregg picks up that gauntlet, singing the verse; it is the most somber, dirge-like rendering of the week, but happy-dirge, like a New Orleans funeral. The band wraps itself around Gregg’s vocals. Warren sings the second verse, as Derek darts and flits. It is an emotional highlight to a draining night, an elegy. Gregg and Warren sing together, then back into sweet, sweet “Mountain Jam.” Derek’s graceful lines bring it safely home, heralding one very last run through the theme.

The ovation is thunderous.

“Can’t stop now,” Greg observes as the band eases back into place for the encore. And unless you really haven’t been paying attention at all, you aren’t the teensiest bit surprised when the boys thunder into “Whipping Post.” The music twists, turns and shimmies through all the dark places, then Warren leads the band through a major key romp. He shoots Oteil one of those trademark devilish glares, then leans at him, and back they go into a frenetic “Whipping Post” conclusion.

These seven men—the Magnificent Seven—convene center stage to take a well-earned bow, forty-five years in the making. Gregg is pushed forward to speak, and he talks about the first time the band ever assembled, March 26, 1969; he notes that they are about to finish with the first song they ever played as a band (looping back, as it were, to where it all begins.) Butch echoes Gregg’s sentiments; Jaimoe notes that before he met Duane he wanted to be either Mr. America, or the world’s greatest jazz drummer. As far as I’m concerned, he’s come pretty damn close on both scores.

As they move back into place, Warren thanks everyone for the opportunity to have been in this band. Then “Trouble No More,” the Muddy Waters tune that started it all. Fittingly, Gregg sings the hell out of it.

So it’s 1:30 in the morning as we stagger one last time back out onto the street together. We’re all kind of stunned, and no one quite knows what to say. It has been as satisfying an end as you could have asked for, big, full, draining, exhaustive, emotional, joyful. But it is, after all, an end. No one wants to go home. Clusters of us assemble around this great theater on the Upper West Side, huddling together, shaking our heads, saying goodbyes, sharing high fives, hugs, tears. And wondering what tomorrow will bring.


1. Little Martha (:51)
2. Mountain Jam (4:01)
3. Don't Want You No More (2:35)
4. It's Not My Cross to Bear (5:04)
5. One Way Out (6:25)
6. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (10:54)
7. Midnight Rider (3:35)
8. High Cost of Low Living (8:40)
9. Hot’Lanta (5:38)
10. Blue Sky (9:55)
11. You Don't Love Me (13:30


1. Statesboro Blues (4:59)
2. Ain't Wastin’ Time No More (7:50)
3. Black Hearted Woman (13:17)
4. The Sky is Crying (9:11)
5. Dreams (11:55)


1. Don't Keep Me Wonderin' (4:26)
2. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (15:28)
3. JaMaBuBu (10:27)
4. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed - reprise (2:34)


1. Melissa (5:39)
2. Revival (4:18)
3. Southbound (5:20)
4. Mountain Jam - reprise (8:06)
5. Will The Circle Be Unbroken? (10:51)
6. Mountain Jam - reprise 2 (3:07)
7. Whipping Post (14:30)
8. Trouble No More (4:29)

This is a 4 disc show, which is why there is a price increase.

SKU: CD776
Price: $30.00