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Published: 2014/07/20
by Larson Sutton

Gregg Allman, Century Park, Los Angeles, CA – 7/19

Gregg Allman at the Beacon Theatre this past spring- photo by Dino Perrucci

Not much lately has been heard about Gregg Allman’s health. That is to say, not since he cancelled dates in early July and checked himself into a hospital with an undisclosed ailment, leading some to speculate as to whether the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer would make his next scheduled appearance, a mid-month, free concert in west Los Angeles. Allaying at least the first concern of the several thousand gathered in Century Park, the outdoor venue of the Country in the City series sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation and radio station KCRW, Allman took an uncharacteristic bow as he eased onto the stage assembled in the midst of cascading twin towers and a nearby caravan of food trucks.

Lighting into “Statesboro Blues,” the golden-tressed singer left no doubt that, while noticeably thinner, his voice remained in exceptional form. He followed with solo hit “I’m No Angel,” before another Allman Brothers Band nugget, “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” showcased the sparkling three-piece horn section driven by saxophonist Jay Collins, and the whining slide of guitarist and musical director Scott Sharrard. Introduced with a fist-pumping nod of appreciation for what he considers ‘old school R&B,’ Allman then launched “I Found a Love,” wailing in arresting harmony with Sharrard and erasing any concern that recent events have affected his treasured tone.

After a brief intro from keyboardist Peter Levin segued into “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” and following solo cut “Before the Bullets Fly,” the ensemble delivered the gorgeously slow “Stormy Monday,” after which Allman acknowledged a debt of gratitude to the late Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. A blustery run through “Sweet Feeling” preceded a make-shift set break for the rock legend as he exited the stage, replaced by Levin on Hammond B-3 for an extended instrumental that featured Brothers percussionist Marc Quinones, a recent addition to the solo band. Returning for a jagged, rollicking “Black Hearted Woman” that slid into the bubbling jazz of “Hot ‘Lanta,” it was on this pair that Allman and his eight-piece band felt most alive, dancing on a tightrope between scorching improvisation and taut Memphis soul revue.

The timeless “Melissa” fell sweetly over the audience before new cut “Love Like Kerosene” reignited the grateful SoCal crowd. Minus the trademark intro of the Brothers version, “Whipping Post” exploded into a relentless groove, providing for Sharrard and company the space and time to flex. Encore “One Way Out” closed the evening in stellar fashion, the reverberating applause rippling off the surrounding concrete, steel, and glass.

At a crisp 90 minutes, the show, proper and well-performed, did seem beholden to curfew. Certainly the group seemed as though it had plenty more to give. The Allman Brothers Band may be taking its victory lap this fall, but Gregg Allman, the solo artist, clearly prefers to keep on running.

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