By: Scott Iwasaki
FOr The Deseret Morning News
Fans’ warm applause and a cold night greeted the Allman Brothers Band at the USANA Amphitheater Saturday night.
Still, the biting wind that dropped the mercury to somewhere around 50 degrees didn’t stop the stalwart Southern blues jam band from playing an innovative set that dipped into its 34-year history.
The band — keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman, drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johnson, guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks (Butch’s nephew), percussionist Marc Quinones and bassist Oteil Burbridge — walked casually to their instruments and began their set.
Allman’s low-key demeanor was foiled by his growling-blues vocals and spitfire keyboard work. His current vocal partner and lead guitarist Warren Haynes, who replaced Dickey Betts, matched singing intensity and cranked out some soul-hitting leads on “Statesboro Blues” and a new tune called “High Cost of Low Living,” from the new album “Hittin’ the Note.”
Young guitar slinger Derek Trucks — who is blues/folk guitarist Susan Tedeschi’s husband — teamed with Haynes and held his own on other works like “Across the River” and the extended jam of “Instrumental Illness.”
The loose and tight drumming of Johnson and the elder Trucks cleared the path for Burbridge’s creeping bass and Quinones’ groove-inspired congas.
While the band took off on its many mind-bending jams, splashes of amoeba-like ink blots warbled across the backdrop, giving a psychedelic visual to the show.
Haynes was in top form when the band, after an extended intro, blasted into “Hoochie-Koochie Man.” The younger Trucks, stood mildly and finger-picked out some heavy slide work while Haynes bent his strings up and down his fretboard.
While the jams were the set’s highlights, the anthemic gospel blues of “Soulshine” found the band and audience singing as one.
Then sensing the audience’s expectations, Allman and his boys slipped into the trademark tunes “Midnight Rider” and “Whipping Post.”
Opening band Tiny Universe — featuring saxophonist Karl Denson (who joined the Allman Brothers Band on a couple of songs), trumpeter Chris Littlefield, guitarist Brian Jordan, keyboardist David Veith, bassist Ron Johnson and drummer Zak Najon — seduced the audience with its foot-stomping blend of jazz, Rhythm & Blues, funk, soul and fusion.
“Whipwalk” and the title track of the band’s new CD, “The Bridge,” were a couple of the hot, heartfelt works that warmed the crowd.