ABB - Beacon, NYC, 3/18/2004
By Frank Scheck
Special to The New York Daily News
Weather reports to the contrary, spring has finally arrived and so has the Allman Brothers Band, returning to the Beacon Theater for their 15th annual "March Madness" shows. Both the quality of the playing and the funkiness of the venue recalled their jam-band glory days at the Fillmore.
In the absence of the Grateful Dead, the band's treks to this upper West Side landmark ... have assumed a mythical aura.
In their opening show, Thursday night, the band demonstrated the creative vitality that they've regained in recent years, documented on last year's studio album "Hittin' the Note" and this year's live "One Way Out."
Delivering a nearly 2½ -hour set marked by many obscure songs and numerous lengthy instrumental jams, they pleased their devotees — even if more casual fans no doubt missed the absence of such milestone songs as "Whipping Post."
To further the trippy mood, the band played in front of psychedelic projections and it affirmed its instrumental prowess.
Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks did proud by the band's dual guitar attack tradition and Gregg Allman provided swirling runs on his B-3 organ.
Allman is sounding as good as he has in years, with a particularly affecting vocal on the self-referential "Old Before My Time," while Haynes also provided powerfully bluesy singing on such numbers as Freddy King's "Woman Across the River."
Unlike last year's shows, which were short on lengthy jams, this opener had them aplenty, especially late in the evening, when both the band and audience were fully warmed up.
It was probably ill-advised, however, to delay the lengthy drum solos until 11 p.m. — even if they were expertly delivered by the triple-threat percussion team of Butch Trucks, Jaimoe and Marc Quinones.
The tradition of featuring a guest star continued with a welcome appearance by Chris Robinson, late of the Black Crowes, who contri-buted powerful vocals and harmonica runs to "Keys to the Highway."
Added: Monday, March 22, 2004
Reviewer: Frank Scheck