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Allman Brothers Band and RatDog, Charter One Pavilion, Chicago, IL- 8/28

The last time I’d seen the Allman Brothers was August of last year when they played the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, IL. The music was good but the venue was terrible. This time, however, they moved Charter One Pavilion, one of the area's finest facilities. It's located on a little peninsula across the harbor from Soldier Field. On one side you have Lake Michigan stretching out into the horizon, and on the other are Soldier Field and the magnificent Chicago skyline. You’d be hard pressed to find a better concert location in the city.

It was a beautiful Thursday in the Windy City, when Bob Weir & RatDog opened the proceedings at 6:30PM. RatDog started out with a nice little jam into "Playing In The Band," followed by "Ramble On Rose" and "Cold Rain & Snow." It was some good stuff, but it wasn’t until "Brown Eyed Women" that things started to heat up. This was followed by a nice "Mississippi Half Step" and then "Dear Prudence," a little treat I wasn’t expecting. They ended it with a solid a cappella "Attics Of My Life." Overall I felt the setlist was pretty decent, the playing had its moments and I was glad to see Bobby, although he was looking a little haggard.

The Allman Brothers took the stage after a brief break, kicking things off with "Midnight Rider." Then Derek Trucks fired off the opening riff to "Done Somebody Wrong," and I knew it was going to be a good night. Warren Haynes went into a nice little solo and Derek Trucks followed suit, both of them displaying some fine guitar work that would only intensify as the night progressed. Gregg Allman’s voice was booming and genuine, with a deep rough edge to it that could have only been molded by blues and whiskey.

The band followed up with "Can’t Lose What You Never Had" and "44 Blues," the latter of which featured some heavy soloing by Haynes. Next up was "Stand Back," a classic rocker and one of my favorites. Then Greg Rzab, who has played bass for Gov’t Mule and Buddy Guy, came up onstage along with Mark Karan from RatDog. What do we have here? I wondered, waiting to see what the fellas had in store, which turned out to be a sweet and soulful "Hurts Me Too," with Haynes singin’ it strong and Trucks laying the licks down behind the vocals before stepping back to let Haynes rip it good and hard. Then it was Karan up at bat, sending a flurry of sweet notes into the crowd before Trucks got in on the action, delivering the final barrage in the triple guitar assault. From here, Bobby Weir came out onstage and everyone wielded acoustics for Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," with Weir and Haynes switching off vocals for each verse (although Weir flubbed some of the lyrics a bit, singing “But I see, I uh swear my reflection.”).

After a lovely "Dreams," the band brought out Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars for a rockin’ and rowdy "Southbound." There was an incredible energy when they played it, leaving room for Dickinson to showcase his dexterity on the six-string. Then the band returned to their solid seven-man lineup for an extended take on "Jessica." There was loads of fine guitar work once again before the majority of the band yielded the stage to JaBuMa, with Jaimoe, Butch Trucks, and Marc Quinones pounding the skins and sending all the hippies into a tribal frenzy. Then they went right back into "Jessica"’ for another peak before bringing it all back home.

The "One Way Out" encore saw Luther Dickinson back out for some slide action. This was a fine song to end it with, the only way out of the guitar frenzy on an evening when I left the venue in a daze, floating through the crowd with that grin on my face.

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