The Allman Brothers Band, Tweeter Center, Mansfield, MA- 8/10
The Allman Brothers Band came on stage to a packed pavilion around 8:15 and
tore into "Don't Keep Me Wondering". It had a nice, deliberate roll to it
which was a great way to get everyone's groove going. The bouncing and
bopping continued with "No One to Run With". It was amazing how different
this song felt being played early in a show as opposed to an encore. Having
heard it close shows countless times, almost to the point of saying "not
again," it was refreshing to hear it as an early, upbeat tone setter. This
show featured many new or re-worked songs that will be included in the
Allman's upcoming studio release scheduled for early 2003. I liked the
jazzy changes in "Come and Go Blues" and thought it a wonder that this
recently reborn Gregg Allman song was on the shelf for almost 18 years.
Warren Haynes really muscled out some gritty lyrics in the bluesy "Woman
Across the River". For the slow, poignant "Old Before My Time" I sat down
and really tuned in to Gregg's awesome vocals. I noticed for the first time
where the rumored name of the upcoming CD "Victory Dance" came from
as one of the lines in this very introspective, somewhat dark tune is something to the effect of "soon I'll do the victory
dance". I found it quite cryptic and foreboding. I took it to mean that
these new songs and new album are a last hurrah, sort of a fitting, worthy
punctuation mark on a storied career, celebrating triumph over a tumultuous
life. The moody side of Warren obviously had a heavy hand in this
song as he emphatically yet silently sang along with every verse. While I
thought it was kind of a downer at the Beacon, tonight "Old Before My Time"
was absolutely captivating.
Two things struck me throughout this show. One was that the interplay
between young phenom Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes seems to have developed
exponentially since March where it pretty much went Derek takes a part,
Warren takes the next and so on. It's hard to remember two guys playing
together and off one another as well as Derek and Warren did on this night
which is amazing given this was only the second show of the leg. Another
conclusion I came to was that this band is now mirroring the roles of the
1971 ABB. Not the riffs or notes, the roles. Warren still directs the
band, but his musical role is now much more as a foil to Derek. There was
no question that Derek is now the featured player and he filled that role
with complete confidence. This was the first time I've ever seen Derek
where his lead playing (fingers, no pick) rivaled his slide playing. The
pace of this kid's continued growth is just astounding.
The "1971" sound that all Allmans fans yearn for was clear as a bell in
"You Don't Love Me". It started with a huge intro that sounded like it was
plucked right out of the middle jam section of a marathon "YDLM" from the
original band. This tune was a major highlight of the show. "Worried Down
with the Blues" was one of my favorite songs of the last two Beacon runs
and this one lived up to my high expectations, showing one of the only role
reversals of the night with Warren commanding the spot light and Derek
playing flying support. Maybe it just seemed like time after a big Warren
vocals tune, or maybe it was just how badly I wanted it, but I KNEW
"Dreams" was next. You'll probably think I'm getting a bit
carried away with this comment, but Derek's
patiently built "Dreams" solo, first on lead then switching to slide, was
one of the most enthralling 7 or 8 minutes I've ever experienced at a
concert. I closed my eyes as it washed over me and for a while I was
conscious of nothing other than Derek's ebbing, growing, soaring cycles of
sound. This was the absolute pinnacle for me, the type of elusive coveted
feeling I chase from show to show and band to band year after year. Perhaps
Gregg got as caught up in it as I did because he seemed to forget that
Warren hadn't even taken a solo, jumping back in with the vocals before
Warren got his chance. Warren winced at Gregg and Gregg nodded an apology.
As much I would have loved to hear Warren take a solo, sometimes it's best
to leave well enough alone. I never really came back to reality after
Dreams. Maybe I just didn't want to.
I was only vaguely conscious of time but it dawned on me that this was the
longest ABB first set I could remember. Early on in "The Same Thing", I
came to the realization that this show would be just one long set and I
just had to leave to answer the call of nature. I spent the next couple of
songs bopping around the venue not completely tuned in to the music, just
taking it all in. I remember digging the new, yet to be named instrumental
from the walkway behind Section 2 and I made it back to my seat for the
start of "Soulshine" which featured some tasty dueling slide guitars.
With hardly a pause after "Soulshine", Oteil Burbridge led the way on bass
into "Whipping Post". I don't want to take anything away from Oteil's
powerful, funky playing but the thing I enjoyed most about Oteil throughout
the night was how into the music he was. When Derek or
Warren did something that made me smile, I'd look over at Oteil and he'd be
smiling too. Oteil often had his eyes closed and his head back as if like
me, he too was letting the music completely carry him away. Seeing him
diggin' it brought a grin to my face many times during the night.
Since last year's surprise "Whippin Post" opener at Tweeter, I have judged
every other one I've heard (live and on CD) by that standard. This "Post"
was almost as good, maybe lacking a little bit of energy of last years
which is understandable as it came at the end of 130 minutes of straight
playing instead of the beginning. My favorite part was at the end of
Warren's solo where he fit in a piece from the height of his jams on early
90's "Nobody Knows". After "Post" the band left their positions to take a
well deserved breather and I asked my buddy what time it was. He showed me
his watch which said 10:30 and I said "just enough time left for a "Mt Jam"
which did indeed come next. It's almost impossible not to get the
chills when you hear Butch Truck's kettle drums introducing one of the
granddaddy's of all jams out of the darkness. Due to the 11:00 curfew
they had to rush it a little, and Warren did a nice job directing things.
I especially liked how he queued everyone into the drums/bass section by
teasing "Amazing Grace". As was true throughout the night, the interplay
and communication between Derek and Warren on this song were simply
Like the show, I'm in danger of running overtime so I'll cut to the chase.
This show was overwhelmingly good. Best ABB show for me since the Summer of
1999 and better than any concert I've seen since Phil's outstanding Orpheum
run last fall, maybe better than those shows too. My spirit's been singing