Allman Brothers Band, AmSouth Ampitheatre, Antioch, TN- 7/4
The ABB has made Nashville a regular 4th of July event over the past decade and there was no better way to spend this particular, post Sept 11th, Independence Day than with a band that has done such a fine job of incorporating all things American into its music.
The songs were all about Gregg Allman; from the opening “Ain’t Wasting Time No More” to the new song “Old Before My Time” to the encore of “Revival” there was barely a moment when you didn’t hear the life of Gregg Allman exploding through the speakers. You always hear people say you are happiest when surrounded by people you love and those who love you. On this night in Nashville nothing could have been truer. Gregg Allman played with more abandon and more joy than I can ever remember seeing. He is sober, he is married to a woman he loves and he no longer has an adversary in the band. All night his singing and organ playing was bright and enthusiastic. His mood was jovial and at times silly (he and Johnny Neel elbowed each other like two kids while they shared the keyboard stand on “Southbound”). At the end of the night he almost seemed reluctant to leave the stage, he seemed humbled by the enthusiasm of the crowd.
The band was, in a word, outstanding. The Allmans are American music at it’s finest. They are the most complex and powerful blend of Blues, Jazz & Country you will find and the blending is intrinsic, it’s natural. The sound of the band is thick (much like the humidity in Nashville), it is gothic but it is not tired, it is not old. They came with a vengeance to prove this. If there was a musical star of the night it was Derek Trucks, now in his early 20’s and a father of a wee baby, Derek plays with more style and maturity than most any musician on the road. His style is usually reserved and literally, quiet but not Thurs night. Derek was in control and up front all night balancing and combating the powerhouse playing of Warren Haynes. His style is amazingly unique and his rhythm playing, which used to be almost nonexistent is now a highlight of his playing.
Although most songs were beyond reproach the musical showcase of the night was an awe-inspiring 30 min “Mountain Jam”. This classic ABB song based on a Donovan melody explored every nuance that band had to offer, beginning with an ever so subtle duet between Butch Trucks on Tympani and his nephew, Derek on slide guitar and building to a one climax, dipping into the amazing “Drums” section including a sublime solo by Jaimoe followed by a transcendent 6string solo by Oteil Burbridge and his touching jazz interpretation of “America”, building back into the cacophonous but cohesive final full band peak.
Throughout the show we were treated to old songs (Midnight Rider), cover songs (Woman Across the River), a Gov’t Mule another Warren Haynes band song (Rocking Horse), a strong new untitled jazz instrumental and special guests like Jack Pearson and Johnny Neel, the ever-present Jimmy Hall and Chris Anderson. The night ended with the one song that embodies everything great about the Allmans in less than 10 minutes, “Revival” a jamming and exploratory gospel tune where everybody gets a solo and the chorus joyfully tells us, “Music is in the air” and “Love is everywhere”. No truer words were sung on July 4, 2002 in Nashville, TN.
Openers were Bowling Green, KY’s infamous rock legend, Government Cheese, who scared everybody who was unfamiliar and the fabulous Derek Trucks Band, featuring the marvelous guest vocalist Susan Tedeschi (Trucks), who wowed everybody with the most adventurous and joyous blend of jazz, funk & blues.