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Allman's Bluesy Show is a Summer Highlight
Posted by: Lana on Monday, August 12, 2002 - 08:13 AM
By: Steve Morse
Boston Globe

MANSFIELD - A fan sitting next to me couldn't contain himself. ''It's not a summer without the Allman Brothers!'' he shouted. And he was right. The band and its devotees have become as much a summer fixture as Jimmy Buffett's Parrotheads or Ozzy Osbourne's hordes. The Allmans have gone through significant changes in recent years - notably the firing of guitarist Dickey Betts and the hiring of guitar partners Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes - but they continue to put on one of the must-see shows of the summer.

Saturday's concert for 16,500 fans was a tasteful dip into the bluesy side of the band. Songs such as ''Come and Go Blues'' (from the group's legendary ''Brothers and Sisters'' album), ''Woman Across the River'' (a Freddie King tune destined to be on the next Allmans CD), and ''Worried Down With the Blues'' (written by Haynes for his other group, Gov't Mule, though the recording featured four of the Allmans) set the night's heartfelt survivors' tone.

Adding to that legacy were two other new tunes: Gregg Allman's exquisitely sung ''Old Before My Time'' (with the confessional verse of ''that road behind me now is paved with fool's gold'') and the self-explanatory ''High Cost of Low Living,'' which sprang into a concluding jam.

The band still misses Betts's fiery peaks, but doesn't miss his desultory, loose-jammed lows. The group is more consistent now and is breaking new ground with the 23-year-old Trucks (nephew of tireless Allmans drummer Butch Trucks), whose poetic slide-guitar solos provided one highlight after another on Saturday. Trucks, who also emulates some of Betts's shimmering style for tradition's sake, worked well as a complement to Haynes's more muscular, in-the-trenches solos. And they both hit their stride on Allman classics ''Dreams'' and ''Mountain Jam.''

A few songs didn't work as well. Gregg Allman's '' Soul Shine'' was too saccharine, while a new jam known as just ''New Instrumental'' was a long series of riffs in search of a melody. Someone needs to do some editing there. But the show built nicely and the main set ended with a soaring '' Whipping Post'' with Allman and Haynes doing the heavy lifting, much to the crowd's delight.

Opening act Galactic was a treat with its New Orleans-steeped jams and riveting vocals from Theryl deClouet. And when Ben Ellman cranked up his bari sax, the group was unstoppable.


 
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Allman's Bluesy Show is a Summer Highlight | Log-in or register a new user account | 3 Comments
  
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Re: Allman's Bluesy Show is a Summer Highlight (Score: 1)
by wearly89 on Aug 12, 2002 - 09:54 PM

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Who is Steve Morse to criticize the Allman Brothers Band? The "New Instrumental" grooves and twists through more interesting turns than any instrumental the Allman Brothers have ever devised. And if Morse thinks "Soulshine" is too saccarine, then his heart is too stone cold to be moved by anything. I have been a huge fan of the Allman Brothers Band ever since 1972, and God bless and love Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, but Warren and Derek are even better than those two. And you can finally depend on Gregg to give a very consistent vocal effort night after night. The Allman Brothers Band is at a new creative peak and I think the crowds swarming to see them night after night testifies to the power of their performance. Bring on the Victory Dance!


Re: Allman's Bluesy Show is a Summer Highlight (Score: 1)
by linus on Aug 14, 2002 - 09:13 AM

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This aritcle seemed to be a fair analysis of most of the shows I've listened to from the summer tour. I think the most intriguing point was his comment about Betts, with the band missing his firey peaks, but not some of the lows. I've been trying to put my finger on my ambivilence about Dickey's leaving, because he is my most significant influence as a musician, and Mr. Morse may have hit it. When Dickey was on top of his game he was the best living guitarist around. But the same show that might bring astounding playing also brought sections-usually in weaker songs-that were dreadful. (Georgia on a Fast Train from Oak Mountain in 1999 immediately comes to mind)

The comment about the new instrumental is interesting. I think those of us who grew up on Dickey's instrumentals understand the comment about the weak melody line. The song doesn't have a melody with the strength or hummability of Lizzie, High Falls, Pegasus or Jessica. For folks who came to the ABB from the jamband scene, I'm not sure this is as important an issue because the interplay of the musicians in the new song is pretty amazing. I'm anxious to see how they edit the song down for the new project.

Perhaps that reminds us of the true mark of Dickey's genius-the ability to write a strong melody line that can be sustained over 8-28 minutes of improvisation. I think we came to take it for granted as fans that Dickey would turn out one more melodic instumental for every album that would measure up to the catalogue. Yet if you listen to Dickey's instrumentals, it becomes clear even he could not sustain this level of briliance. While Kind of Bird, JJ's Alley, True Gravity and Madness are impressive tunes none have the easy flow of Dickey's best work.

I'm anxious to hear the tapes from this leg of the tour. If they are anything like the first leg, we'll see a lot more strong positive reviews like this one



[No subject] (Score: 1)
by wearly89 on Aug 25, 2002 - 09:12 PM

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I don't know what's wrong with your ears, man. Dickey Betts firey peaks are the same licks he's been playing over and over since about 1973. Both Warren and Derek are far better guitarists both aesthetically and technically than Betts. Now I admit, I love the great majority of DB's compositions, but his genius is composing, not playing. It's time for the Victory Dance!!!





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