By Jim Lundstrom, Post-Crescent staff writer
19 July 2004 – The Post-Crescent
Hey, let’s party like it’s 1969.
Extended jams played to a psychedelic light show, spontaneous outbreaks of hippie dancing and a sweet, pungent aroma hanging over it all — you could be excused if you thought you were having a flashback at The Allman Brothers concert at Fox Cities Stadium Saturday night.
The crowd of about 4,100 was a mix of 40- and 50-somethings who grew up listening to The Allman Brothers, and 20-something neo-hippie jam band followers who, if the number of Grateful Dead T-shirts testify to anything, seem just as interested in co-lead guitarist Warren Haynes’ connections to The Dead.
Saturday’s concert was the last show in this leg of the Allman tour. They pick it up in again late August. In the meantime, Haynes will be touring with The Dead, who play Alpine Valley on Saturday. Both factions got what they wanted.
After a rocking 50-minute opening set by Chris Robinson and New Earth Mud, The Allmans played enough of the more memorable songs from its 35-year-old catalog to keep the older fans happy, and went into enough improvisational flights of fancy to send the jam band crowd into paroxysms of hippie dancing.
It was no revelation that Allman guitarists Haynes and 24-year-old phenom Derek Trucks are all they have been said to be — fluid, tasteful, tuneful, toneful, inventive.
Trucks showed an unusual sense of restraint and respect for space in his solo opening to “Mountain Jam.” Instead of stating the bouncy, whistle-able theme head-on, he approached it from the side, played around the melody, suggested what was to come.
Of course, both he and Haynes blazed when they needed to, which is often.
Both Gregg Allman’s instruments — his voice and Hammond B-3 — were in fine form. There is nothing like the sound of a B-3 to punctuate the heavy sound this band can lay down.
And when Allman sang the words “Lord, I feel like I’m dyin'” on the penultimate song, “Whipping Post,” his voice was at its most poignantly pained and mournful. His voice, in short, is the very epitome of the blues.
Original drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe — assisted by percussionist Marc Quinones — continue to provide a thunderous background, underpinned by the huge bass sound of Oteil Burbridge.
Fans who felt tears well up in their eyes at the band’s encore song were not alone.
At the end of “Whipping Post,” Allman said, “God bless, ya all,” the stage lights dimmed for a few moments, then came back up as the band broke into “Layla,” which ultimately is a tribute to Allman Brothers founder Duane Allman, the brilliant slide guitarist who died in a motorcycle accident in 1971.
In his brief life, Duane laid down some tracks for all time with The Allmans and others, including Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominoes project. Duane plays the haunting guitar riff and slide on “Layla.”
Closing with “Layla” was a sweet reminder that the Allmans always were a family band, and that fans were always a part of that family.
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