ALLMANS DIG RIGHT DOWN TO THE SOUL
Steve Morse, Globe Staff
15 July 2003
The Boston Globe
Copyright (c) 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.
MANSFIELD – To the shock and delight of 13,000 fans, the Allman Brothers Band pulled a few surprises at the Tweeter Center on Sunday. No, we’re not talking about any Allman obscurities or new songs from the band’s latest CD, “Hittin’ the Note.” What surprised the loyalists were unusually soulful versions of tunes from early Allman peers such as Derek and the Dominos and Van Morrison.
Much has been said about how the Allmans have settled into a more relaxed groove these days, and that was apparent when they opened with “Layla” (by the Eric Clapton-led Derek and the Dominos, assisted by the late Duane Allman) and later did “Into the Mystic” by Morrison. The first was given an earthy sensuality, the second sensitive vocals from the normally gritty Warren Haynes, topped by slide-guitar riffs from Derek Trucks that replaced the sax fills on the original. The Allmans have played “Layla” on special occasions, but only as an encore, not as an opener. And “Into the Mystic” has only popped up sporadically.
It was great to see the Allmans experiment in this way – and their air of exploration made this one of their better Tweeter nights in recent years. Singer Gregg Allman, whose shining, post- drug-rehab health is a marvel, moved from one musical high to another – from vintage peaks on “Melissa” and “Statesboro Blues,” to the new “Desdemona.” Haynes added vocal muscle to a medley of “Spoonful” and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” that showed the band can still cut down-and-dirty blues.
Opener Susan Tedeschi played a proud hometown concert that celebrated her Norwell roots. She offered her own rich take on the blues, getting help from Allman guitarist (and her husband) Trucks on “The Feeling Music Brings,” before touching the crowd with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” She played an extra-long set that was more than satisfying.