By: Alan K. Stout
For The Times Leader
SCRANTON – It’s appropriate that the latest CD from the Allman Brothers Band is titled “Hittin’ the Note” because that’s exactly what the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers did on Friday night at the Ford Pavilion at Montage Mountain.
The Allmans, who have played Montage six times, still pack a hefty punch and wasted no time in dishing out its blistering brand of guitar-fueled rock and blues. The band opened with “Every Hungry Woman” and followed with “You Don’t Love Me.” “Statesboro Blues” was met with a roar by the crowd of 3,750, and Gregg Allman’s soulful and raspy vocals also brought the right touch to the new “Woman Across the River.”
Though the Allmans are summer regulars at Montage, there were some differences in this year’s show. The group’s instruments and amplifiers were set up closer together on stage, giving the band a cozy, tighter appearance that more resembled a theater or a club than a large venue. And the images on the large video screens that have always featured spacey images were slightly toned down. Simple lighting and a simple curtain backdrop framed much of the music, and that was all it needed.
What remained the same was the prowess of the musicianship. Guitarits Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks continuously fired off fiery yet melodic licks, and the heavy percussion sound that has always been the band’s signature remained intact.
(The fact that Trucks plays the way he does without using a pick remains amazing.)
Songs from the group’s latest critically acclaimed CD such as “Old Before My Time,” “Desdemona” and “Rocking Horse” blended seamlessly with older gems such as “Midnight Rider.” The Grammy-winning band jammed frequently and though the jams were sometimes long, they were never overly indulgent or tiresome. Haynes sang lead and also displayed soulful voice on “Who’s Been Talking” and Allman’s own tasteful keyboard work brought spice to each number.
In a tribute to the late Jerry Garcia, who would have celebrated his birthday Friday, the group performed a heartfelt rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star” and “The Other One.”
The show ended with a extended performance of “One Way Out” with the band still hittin’ the high notes.
That’s why the promoters have them back nearly every year, that’s why people always come, and that’s why the band is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The next closest stop of the Allman Brothers’ tour is Tuesday at the Festival Pier in Philadelphia. Call (215) 569-9400 for more information.