By Josh Chasin
ABB at the Beacon March 11, 2006
Warren Haynes Smolders; band is en fuego.
It is a star-studded night of guests, and the band has hit their stride. Warren Haynes, in particular, seems to have kicked it up a notch, and hits you in the gut all night. “Whatever he had for breakfast, I want some,” I think to myself.
“Don’t Want You No More,” of course, features some tangy organ work from Gregg. Derek plays the blues with a rich, creamy tone; Warren is full-bodied with just a hint of cocoa…
The band slams into “Not My Cross to Bear,” Warren playing the sweet bluesy intro. Oteil turns to face Butch and the two lock in; Derek’s lead lines cut like a razor, the whole band locked in step on the roly poly riff leading into the final section.
Derek’s solo careens off the song as he and the band tumble forward through “Every Hungry Woman.” It’s all about the hot potato, fire in the moment, and they keep it stoked. Warren and Derek fall into the twin licks, and the band is suddenly kicking ass, a ferocious version.
“Who’s Been Talkin’” is next, and it is almost three highlights; the part before the song; the song itself; and the outro jam. It starts with slow, dark snaky bass lines and drums; Warren sprinkles on a wave of chords. Warren and Derek improvise some minor blues over the one chord, until finally Warren pierces the night with the proper opening lick. Warren pushes the song’s opening until it is a long, Santana-ish jam. Then finally he sings the verse, then absolutely slays on his solo. Derek comes out of Warren’s solo and takes us away; then Warren takes us back to the song with a big hanging piercing note, back into the vocal section. Warren vamps on the close—“I’m the causin’ of it all”—with Derek doing beautiful work against his singing; then Derek and Warren trade solos in a tiny little place, the music getting… small… “Who’s Been Talkin’” is a lingering delight and a stone cold highlight.
Devon Allman joins the band center stage for “Midnight Rider,” taking the second verse. It is hard not to think back in time, seeing a young blond guitarist with Allman DNA up there on stage. Derek’s solo is sweet and true.
“Good Clean Fun” thunders, then Oteil lays down the opening to “Instrumental Illness.” Gregg is featured on the first solo section, then Derek is a white hot fireball. Warren doesn’t stray far from the riff on his solo, and then some give-and-take between Warren and Oteil. Derek drives the band with insistent chording; Warren solos against him, then Oteil, then a full stop before they come back into the theme and sprint to a close.
The three drummers cook up some rhythmic Jambalaya, before the band joins in for
Gilded Splinters.” It may be the quintessential Allman Brothers Band new groove song. Warren and Derek snarl out the licks, and Warren plays some nasty lead. Another highlight.
Gary Rossington comes on, and the band closes the set with the Skynyrd song “Simple Man.” Warren provides fierce, gritty lead vocals. Warren and Rossington spell out the chords a string at a time on the opening, then the three guitars are big, loud, dumb and happy. Rossington solos out of the song, then Warren and Rossington are featured on a brief outro. A heavy solid end to the set, but maybe a little more Mule than Allman.
Peter Frampton(!) joins the band on “Born Under a Bad Sign” to open the second set. Frampton takes the first solo; Warren makes a gesture to him that looks like it means “go on,” and Frampton takes a step forward, throws it into high gear, and it is classic, hi-octane British blooz. Derek takes a solo out of Warren’s vocals, and Frampton gets a boner watching him; Frampton actually claps for Derek when his solo is done. Vocals, then Warren plays a watery solo, then he and Frampton lock on, then solo rounds from all three guitarists, then a Warren/Frampton showdown. Warren is feeling it.
Derek drips dew on the intro to “Les Brers.” Gregg takes a tasteful sweet solo, with Derek chording and Oteil making the air tremble. Derek plays a cool, dissonant solo, then a short Jabuma interlude, then Oteil joins the drummers, and Warren plays over the groove. The band returns in full, and Warren lights it up over a flying groove. This year the band seems somehow to be more about the groove… There is a majestic, emphatic, hard close; “Les Brers” is magnificent.
Warren get s big, full tone on “Melissa,” and he gets right to that spot, the G spot in your soul. It actually tickles when he plays. “Melissa” is truly exquisite, five minutes of just what I paid for. Warren’s empathetic playing is so gorgeous it aches; after the song ends, the guy next to me exclaims, “Sooo pretty, man.” As for me, let’s just say if I actually lived at the Beacon, I’d want to change the sheets.
Derek introduces “Key to the Highway.” Gregg sings the first verse, and Warren picks up right where he left off, playing more ouch! Then Warren sings, then Derek takes off, falling backward against the blues until he makes it over the wall and out of the song, and then he plays the blues from that other place on the outside. Gregg sings the last verse, and a rollicking bluesy outro.
Jay Collins joins the band to the right of Oteil, and jazz giant Roy Haynes is on Jaimoe’s kit. Roy Haynes takes off on a solo, all syncopated and jazzy; Oteil signs on and picks up the beat, then Collins, and it is “Afro-Blue.” There seems to be an invisible magnetic connection between Roy Haynes, Oteil, Derek, and Collins, who form the crux of the song. Collins is on soprano sax, a clarinet-looking thing. He and the two guitarists play the song’s theme, then Warren plays a thick, round slide solo. Collins takes off, his soloing sounding vaguely Egyptian; the band finds the groove behind him and works it. Oteil takes flight, and Roy Haynes zeroes in on him, then takes the lead with Butch and Marc following in step. Soon this gives way to a Roy Haynes workshop; Butch is standing beside his kit, leaning, watching Roy Haynes. Marc eases up, and soon just Roy Haynes is playing, the rest of the band, backs to the house, watching him, digging on the drum solo. Haynes is a day shy of 81 and a true jazz genius, and these players bask in his joyous dance…
…then back to the riff; Derek flits across it, then the band is hard into the theme, Oteil throwing bass lines out at Collins, then the rest of the band. Sublime. The ghosts of Miles and ‘Trane are in the house and beaming.
Gregg plays a heavy organ intro to “Dreams.” Warren rings like a bell, taking the entire solo (I like it better when one soloist plays this song.) His part is a big, sweaty novella. The band slams home to the close, and it is the low down dank dirty blues.
Derek’s incendiary slide work pierces the boogie on “One Way Out.” Then Frampton, Collins, and Will Calhoun emerge with the band for the encore, which you know without question is going to be “Southbound.” It is the usual raucous roundhouse; Oteil stands directly behind Collins and thunders as Collins solos; Frampton stings and slashes. There is a lightning round of lead lines; Warren nods out the next assignment, Collins leans forward to make sure he doesn’t miss a cue. Frampton and Warren lock together on the “Southbound” licks, then the final vocals, and bam, off into the Saturday night.
Don’t Want You No More >
It’s Not My Cross To Bear
Every Hungry Woman
Who’s Been Talking?
Midnight Rider (Devon Allman)
Good Clean Fun
Walk On Gilded Splinters
Simple Man (Gary Rossington; no Marc)
Born Under A Bad Sign (Peter Frampton)
Les Brers In A Minor
Key To The Highway
Afro Blue (Roy Haynes; no Jaimoe; Will Calhoun; Jay Collins)
One Way Out
Southbound (Frampton, Collins, Calhoun)