By Dan Aquilante
For the New York Post, 3/21/03
When you wait long enough, history has a way of repeating itself. Take the Allman Brothers Band, which opened its annual March Madness run at the Beacon Theatre last week. It was more than 30 years ago that the band recorded their seminal, revered live album, “At Fillmore East.”
At the show attended by The Post, the Allman Brothers marked that impressive milestone with a concert that offer the same primal blues rock with a fire that burned almost as bright today as it did then. The ABB also illustrated that they are a band in every sense.
Keyboardist Gregg Allman may have the name, but he’s as much a guy in the group as guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks , bassist Oteil Burbridge or the famous three-man percussion team of Jaimoe Johanny Johanson, Butch Trucks and Marc Quinones.
As in a jazz outfit, everyone has the freedom of solos, and they all duel with one another musically. When gravel vocals were needed for the melancholy “Midnight Rider,” Allman sang; when the high notes had to grace “Woman Across the River,” Haynes was at the mike.
When the Allman Brothers Band is oiled and clicking, it’s all about musicianship.
With songs like the jammified “Desdemona,” which was drawn out to a 15-minute epic, you hear a foundation of blues on which the band layered old-school R&B, jazz flourishes, gospel and even hints of country twang. It was, in essence, the gumbo of Southern rock at its best.
Over the course of this three-hour concert, the jam was everything.
The Allman Brothers ‘ formula for building a jam is simple. The first half of most numbers is a last-man-standing musical brawl where everyone tries to strut his stuff. But as the song progresses, the noodling and divergent musical approaches focus onto a single path and everyone falls into parallel harmony.
At the height of a good jam, there weren’t three drummers in the band – there was just one, with six arms.
The six-armed monster did get the crowd a bit drowsy with a too-long, 20-minute drum solo near the close of the concert.
But that beating was soon forgotten after the full-band arrangement for the song “Southbound” was rendered as an encore treat.
The height of the show had to be the midconcert acoustic set that opened with “Come Into My Kitchen” and progressed into an Allman/Haynes guitar duet on “Melissa.”