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Published: 2015/05/03
by Larson Sutton

Gregg Allman, The Canyon Club, Agoura Hills, CA- 4/29

Photo by Dino Perrucci

It may be familiar, even expected to a point just shy of inevitable, but when Gregg Allman counts in to the opening bars of “Statesboro Blues,” it remains undeniably electrifying. Before a second consecutive sold-out house, the legendary musician and his lock-tight band clocked-in a two-hour concert full of gems from The Allman Brothers Band, as well as a few chestnuts from the solo years that played as a timeline of sorts, linking the high points of his illustrious career. In vigorous voice, and sharing his happiness to be back in a place that he once called home, Allman laid down another winning hand.

His ‘80s hit, “I’m No Angel,” came early, with musical director and guitarist Scott Sharrard’s fingers dancing nimbly across the fretboard. Peter Levin’s piano intro on “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” turned the Brothers’ number funkier, particularly with the trumpet blasts of horn man Marc Franklin, only to slide back with a silky and incandescent “Stormy Monday.” Then, two entries, “Trouble No More” and “Done Somebody Wrong,” had the Canyon echoing with blissful memories of Fillmore East, before Allman went acoustic for “Floating Bridge,” the Sleepy John Estes standard from Allman’s 2011 chart-topping Low Country Blues.

In a nod to Jackson Browne, Allman’s old roommate from his stint in Hollywood in the late ‘60s, his sobering reading of Browne’s “These Days” prompted one of several standing ovations. Welcoming back to the stage son Devon, fresh from his own impressive opening set in support of his Ragged and Dirty release, Allman and his guitar-wielding scion led the eight-piece ensemble firing through the improvisational synapses of “Dreams.” A makeshift break for the singer while his band powered ahead instrumentally, shining on Brothers’ percussionist Marc Quinones, allowed the 67-year-old Allman a timely breather. Reassembled, the final third of the evening offered one iconic song building into the next, with “Hot ‘Lanta” and “Southbound” charging, singalongs “Melissa” and “Midnight Rider” caressing, and (with Allman center stage and on guitar) “Whipping Post” and “One Way Out” culminating.

Gregg Allman owes to his inimitable voice of melancholic torment the ability to indulge in both his solo repertoire and that of the group to which he lent his surname for 45 years without having to delineate between the two. The Allman Brothers Band may have written the latest closing chapter to their story in October of 2014, but Allman’s vocals will rightly and always be recognized as a foundational hallmark of that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band. He can pack a dominant portion of a performance with Brothers classics, as he did on this fourth and final night in Southern California, without even a hint that he is trading on their legacy, but rather continuing naturally one of his own. A night like this is Gregg Allman’s reminder that the road goes on forever.

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