I’m presently starved for sleep, but
I wanted to share a little review of the great music I got to hear.
Tuesday night, the Allmans squeezed in a very tight, energetic show
between a couple of storm fronts in downtown Indianapolis. Standing in
line in the rain for about 45 minutes, I overheard a girl say that the
ABB were playing better than they had in 10 years. She said that she
had seen the July 3 extraganza with the Dead in Washington. Well, I
thought, we’ll have to see about that.
The opener, Chris Robinson and New Earth Mud, were delayed a half-hour
by the first storm, but were well worth the wait. Chris has written a
bunch of really sweet rockers since leaving the Crowes, and also throws
in some select covers. He sings as well as ever, and also demonstrates
some real nice rhythm guitar, sort of guiding the path of the jams, a la
Bobby Weir in the Dead. And boy did they jam! Audley Freed is much,
much better than he ever had the chance to show in the Black Crowes.
I’ll refer you to the NEM website for the setlist, but highlights
included High Speed Transportation LA City Limit Blues, Girl on the
Mountain, 40 Days and Sunday Sound. I’m very impressed with this band,
and Chris’ abilities as a writer.
The Bros hit the stage just before 9 and plowed into DWYNM/NMCTB. All
night they proved to be unbelievable tight, a well-oiled machine. To
me, Derek was the stunning main attraction, when is this boy gonna peak
out as a player? If he continues on this path, he’ll be head and
shoulders above any picker who’s ever lived. Include all of the greats
you want, Derek is just otherworldly. He’s become proficient with the
finger picked straight left handed chording style now, as well as the
Warren, in most spots, plays the meat and potatoes, in your face style,
to Derek’s off the wall, Coltrane style. I really like the contrast.
In general the m.o. of the band at this point in time has changed from
pre-2000. The amount of really “out there” improvisation has decreased
quite a bit, replaced by harder edged, more rockin jams. More of a
tight, high power blues band, with great chops. Oteil’s bubbling
undercurrent is always there, though, reminding you that this is music
for your head, hips and feet. All at the same time.
Warren and Derek did a fantastic intro to Hoochie Coochie Man, trading
slide licks, one of the high points of the night. From there on, they
did High Cost, Rockin Horse, Gambler’s Roll and Instrumental Illness. I
think Rockin’ Horse was my favorite of the night, with Derek and Warren
both shredding the breaks, over the locomotive rhythm section. The drum
section seemed a little longer than usual, but Marc was really blazing.
I love those high speed timbales. Whew. A fairly standard One Way Out,
in the original band’s arrangement, was the encore.
My only complaints would be the abbreviated show, only 2:10, and the
standard setlist. The former was due to the weather, and the latter
could be excused due to the great playing of the band as a whole. They
really crackled, at times sounding more like a hard rock outfit. With
the regular time frame available, this one might have been an all-time
great show. Now maybe I’m being an old fogie, but an Allman Bros Band
show with neither Dreams nor Whipping Post just seems incomplete to me.
I would have also liked to hear one of the new blues covers they’ve
broken out this year, but that’s just nitpicking what was a typically
great ABB show.