The more things change, the more they stay the same.
And that goes for the Allman Brothers Band, regardless of who’s in the line-up. It’s kind of like the Yankees or the Red Sox – the name stays the same, but the players keep on changing throughout the years.
Rolling into the Palace Theatre in Albany last Monday night, Gregg Allman and the band weren’t there to shock like Lady Gaga. Or to blow your ears out like Ozzy Osborne. No surprises here. The Allman Brothers Band were there to play their asses off, and that’s exactly what they did.
There were, of course, lots of old blues-based songs. They kicked off the evening with the classic “Statesboro Blues.” And then mid-way through their second set, they paid tribute to the author of “Statesboro” with their version of Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell.”
And that was something of a blueprint for the evening, as well as a history lesson: old blues nuggets in the first set (including Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen” and Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying”), balanced with more contemporary rock gems in the second (Dave Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know” and Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me”).
Of course, the heart of the Allmans has always been their trademark twin-guitar lead attack, and they carried on the legacy in fine fashion on Monday with Warren Haynes hammering the strings and Derek Trucks doing the fine fingerpicking and slide work.
The propulsive jams were nailed down by the band’s signature dual-drummer line up of Jaimoe Johanson and Butch Trucks, bolstered by the percussive counterpoint of Marc Quinones, who was hand-slamming congas and everything else within reach. Lest we forget, there were constantly percolating bass lines from Oteil Burbridge, too, doing so much more than merely anchoring the high-flying guitar excursions.
And, as always, there was gravel-voiced Gregg Allman – perched comfortably behind his Hammond B-3 organ and Fender Rhodes electric piano with the whirling Leslie cabinet looming just behind him.
Of course, with more than 40 years of recordings to cherry-pick from, a number of classic Allman Brothers songs went un-played on Monday – no “Whipping Post” – but fans were rewarded with plenty of ABB catalog classics, including “Melissa” (with Allman on acoustic guitar), the rumblin’ “Midnight Rider,” the soaring “Dreams” and the show-closing instrumental “Les Brers in A Minor” (from 1972’s “Eat a Peach”). .
It’s comforting to know that over the years, some things – like the Allman Brothers Band’s fiery sound – just don’t change. Only some of the players.
NOTE: Look for Gregg Allman’s first solo album in 14 years to be released on January 18 by Rounder Records. “Low Country Blues” is a collection of classic blues songs by Sleepy John Estes, Junior Wells, Skip James, Muddy Waters and others. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the album also features “Just Another Rider,” co-penned by Allman and Warren Haynes.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Older, far less reckless, far more structured, they have retained the power and ferocity their founder expected from them. With only three of the originals on stage Monday night, it didn’t matter. The spirit and health of the band is sturdier then when they were in their heyday.”
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND SET LIST
Come On In My Kitchen
Woman Across The River
Every Hungry Woman
The Sky Is Crying
No One To Run With (with James van de Bogert, drums)
Trouble No More
Only You Know And I Know
Blind Willie McTell
And It Stoned Me
Les Brers In A Minor