The Allman Brothers Band

Allman Brothers Band Works Its Psychedelic Blues Magic

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Anastasia Pantsios

About 4,000 to 5,000 hardy classic-rock lovers braved a downpour last

night to hear the Allman Brothers Band work its psychedelic blues magic

at Blossom Music Center.

Thirty-two years after its formation, the ABB contains three original

members: vocalist/keyboard player Gregg Allman and drummers Butch

Trucks and Jaimoe Johanson. Guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren

Haynes, bassist Oteil Burbridge and percussionist Mark Quinones are

more recent additions. Yet the band has stayed true to the sound that

made it famous: swamp blues boiled in a vat of rock ‘n’ roll.

The ambiance of the show, if not the sound, had a lot in common with

the Grateful Dead. You could tell the minute you walked in and saw the

big audience microphones on tall stands and the fluorescent mushroom

banners on stage.

The band’s 2½-hour show was presented without a lot of frills, other than a

screen on which images were projected.

The band walked on stage and spent a couple of minutes tuning up before

attacking its opening number, “Statesboro Blues.” With a few exceptions,

such as the acoustic-flavored “Melissa” with Allman switching to guitar,

the band alternated between dense, uptempo blues tunes and sparser,

slow ones.

Though the band left plenty of space for Trucks and Haynes to solo –

displaying both their technical proficiency and heartfelt emotion – most of

the tunes didn’t feel overlong. Only about a half-dozen of them evolved into

prolonged jams.

Of course, one of the longest and most embellished was a crowd favorite:

the inevitable “Whipping Post” played as an encore.

As always, Allman’s mournful organ and unearthly wailing are ABB

hallmarks. Though his lyrics are garbled to the point of being completely

inarticulate, Allman conveys a world of emotion in his tone. Haynes

handled vocals on some tunes, offering a contrasting, earthier approach.

The vocals generally took a back seat to the band’s dynamic, aggressive

blues-rock instrumentals. Several numbers were entirely instrumental. Of

those, a sizzling rendition of “Jessica” was a standout.

Trucks and Haynes only occasionally played the dual unison lead guitar

that was also once an Allman trademark. When they did, it created a

weird sensation, since both originators of that sound, Duane Allman and

Dickey Betts, are gone from the band.

Susan Tedeschi, a talented singer/guitarist somewhat in the Bonnie Raitt

mold, opened the show. She and her three backup musicians played a

50-minute set that didn’t restrict itself to blues. It touched on folk rock,

soul, funk, blues and even reggae.

Pantsios is a freelance writer from Cleveland Heights.


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