By: David Lindquist
For The Indianapolis Star
Time is losing its battle with the Allman Brothers Band. As proven Friday night at the Murat Theater, the blues-rock veterans aren’t an oldies act. Instead, this is a muscular crew fulfilling its destiny.
The Allmans couldn’t help but be lively for this sold-out theater date — which offered more excitement than another annual stop at Verizon Wireless Music Center.
From the Murat’s balcony, floor-level patrons could be seen standing shoulder to shoulder. Divisions of aisles and rows of seats were undefined.
The band’s current studio album, “Hittin’ the Note,” also helps in the vitality department.
Warren Haynes, now in his second tour of duty with the Allmans, obviously calls many of the shots for the seven-man band. He sang “Rockin’ Horse” from the new album and added a hammering guitar solo.
Founding member and primary vocalist Gregg Allman laid out his life story during “Old Before My Time,” which featured slide-guitar tones from Haynes that sparkled like chrome.
If Allman were hopelessly immersed in nostalgia, it wouldn’t make sense to praise the band for its aura of freshness.
But his rough-and-tumble past allows his reflections to stand as valuable testimony for the here and now. Only a survivor can sell the line “Living like children, never doing what we’re told,” from “Old Before My Time.”
It also was great to hear Allman in strong voice from the outset, as the 55-year-old has struggled out of the gate in recent years.
Early on, he coaxed the slow burn from “It’s Not My Cross to Bear” and invested appropriate spunk in “Wasted Words.”
If the evening had a disappointment, it was guitarist Derek Trucks’ inability to break free from the dense instrumentation.
While Haynes’ playing sailed consistently on top of the sound mix, slide master Trucks was mired to the point that his solos felt like breaks in the action.
Opening act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, which places far less emphasis on guitar, provided a fine contrast.
Saxophone is Denson’s instrument.
Trumpet and organ supply melodic accents, while a rhythmic pyramid of drums, bass and guitar rounds out the sextet.
Thanks to Denson’s elastic and emphatic monologues on horn, his outfit ranks as the most danceable on the modern jam-band circuit.