By: Pete Colaizzo
For: The Poughkeepsie Journal
As my wife and I walked into the beautiful Bethel Woods Center for the Arts for Tuesday night’s Allman Brothers Band show, we were greeted with an unexpected sun shower. The downpour left us scurrying for cover for a few minutes.
After the rain quickly passed, there was a gorgeous double rainbow arched above us. Such unique, awe-inspiring beauty was a great primer for what we were about to experience a few hours later, when the legendary rockers took the stage for the first time this year.
The band tore through this 21/2-hour set in mid-tour form, despite the fact they had not performed together on stage for the better part of a year as Gregg Allman recovered from hepatitis C. Allman appeared 100 percent healthy based on his soulful singing on “Stormy Monday” early in the show.
The low rumble of drummer Butch Trucks on the tympani got things going. When guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks delicately began the sweet strains of “Mountain Jam,” I knew we were in for some great jamming. In the half-dozen or so times I have seen the Brothers, never have they started a show with that jam, which would be reprised with equal vigor at show’s end.
They went right from “Mountain Jam” into “Statesboro Blues,” a staple sure to satisfy new and old Brothers fans alike. They kept casual fans happy with classics such as “Black Hearted Woman,” “Midnight Rider” and the encore of “One Way Out.”
What thrills me is reveling in the band’s sheer musicianship on the winding, seemingly endless grooves. I was bubbling over with excitement during the show-stopping, 35-minute musical journey that concluded the show.
It started with perhaps their most famous instrumental, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Allman’s haunting keyboards gave way to the melodic Derek Trucks guitar. As the song picked up steam, so did the percussion work of Butch Trucks, Marc Quinones and the venerable Jaimoe. As it seemingly reached its climax, it veered quickly into a vintage Oteil Burbridge bass solo. The bassist and Quinones went at it for several minutes before Burbridge took over Butch Trucks’ seat for the classic “Jabuma” percussion solo, with Trucks taking center stage again on a big bass drum. As the four percussionists worked up a frenzy, the rest of the band came out for the “Mountain Jam” reprise.
Tuesday night’s show reaffirmed this is no nostalgia act. These guys can still rock and can still keep it sounding fresh. It keeps me, and thousands of others, coming back for more.