By: John Luciew
Gregg Allman proves that youth is wasted on the young.
The gray-bearded leader of the Allman Brothers Band survived a drug- and drink-fueled misspent youth and more recently battled back from a yearlong convalescence from complications of hepatitis C.
Yet, there he was, robust as ever at 60, surrounded by bandmates old and new, spinning mesmerizing Southern rock and blues-rock standards to the delight of nearly 6,000 at The Star Pavilion at Hersheypark Monday night.
Allman, clad in black with his long, flowing hair pulled into a ponytail, powered through songs with a muscular voice and nimble keyboard fingers.
However, he mostly remained ensconced behind his keyboards. It was a two-hour set balanced with Allman classics (“Melissa,” “Mountain Jam”), covers (“Stormy Monday,” “One Way Out”) and newer material.
The quintessential jam band sure lived up to its reputation, with extended rifts that were at times fierce and frenzied, and at others gentle and wafting.
For the most part, the crowd reveled in the musical excess, shimmying, swaying and shuffling as psychedelic images, including the band’s trademark mushroom, flashed on a giant screen backdropping the band.
Still, a few songs seemed to go on so long, the overplay certainly came at the expense of other favorites. For example, where was “Whipping Post?”
But these were minor quibbles. Though the alchemy of the Allman Brothers has changed over the years, the band was tight, the sound as crisp and clean as the late August evening.
Opening act Bob Weir and RatDog got the tie-dyed, Grateful Dead-loving crowd revved up early with a 90-minute set also long on jams.
Some would say it made for an evening as timeless as the 1970s.
Others might have been ready for a wake-up call by the time the last, long note was played