Butch plays an insistent cymbal beat as the band takes the stage and tunes; finally Derek plays a line over Butch’s beat and after a good long while it becomes the first song of the evening, “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’.” Oteil is back to the house, facing the drummers, eyes closed, grooving; he must want to feel Butch’s power in his heart. Derek solos on the outro; Warren bends low with the music, transferring sheer physical energy to Derek. A fierce Butch drive, and an extended Derek jam into a hard finish. Gregg, continuing his strong presence all run, rocks forward into the mic for his vocals on “Trouble No More,” with Derek tossing in accents around the vocal lines. Warren takes his first solo of the night, then Derek plays some beautifully abrasive slide lines against Gregg’s vocals. A nice old school one-two punch to open.
Warren counts in “Woman Across the River.” Oteil does a deep walk, Derek plays shrill, flat lines, giving way to a Gregg solo. Derek plays some splashy molten blues, eliciting an ovation; the final vocal section, then the outro, where Warren rains down some fluid notes, then Derek and Warren trade lines, Derek wails, Warren faces him, fixes on him, then matches his intensity as the two of them drive hard to the close.
Warren plays some folk guitar with Gregg’s singing on “Old Before My Time,” Marc’s tambourine is the only percussion, and Oteil plays a light bass line. After the first verse the band comes in, restrained; a nice melancholy Warren solo. As the song dies down, Warren looks over at Butch and mouths the count-in for “Come and Go Blues.” Derek’s notes between verses are fat in the middle, like the cigars that cartoon gangsters used to smoke. The band falls into a sweet pocket toward the end; Warren turns first to Greg, then Derek, that cackle grin spread wide across his face…
“Maydell” is a nice swaying shuffle, Warren using a piercing muddy wah-wah tone on the riff. Derek solos over the outro choo choo ch’boogie; he’s the train whistle crying out over the top. The band falls hard forward as Butch plays some fast triplets, and the band comes out the other side in a hard groove. Warren changes the pace with a hard snatch of the melody line, pushing the music to a new groove, with Derek over the top. Soon Warren and Derek are soloing at the same time; it is as if each is hearing the other’s solo as part of the groove he’s playing against, and it all blends together… then totally in synch back to the “Maydell” riff to finish. It is a highlight. Butch counts in “Standback,” which is highlighted by a Derek wild man solo over the rubbery lick.
Audley Freed joins the fray on guitar, and Colonel Bruce Hampton joins on vocals, for a lo-down dirty run through “Spoonful.” Derek and Freed play the opening lick; Warren plays a brief, psychedelic wavy figure, then the Colonel steps up for some nasty vocals. This is a man who truly channels Howlin’ Wolf. Freed takes a one-chord solo, Derek takes the ball for a brief vamp, and the Colonel does his Wolf thing again. Freed takes his second solo, laying on some tasty slide work as the band heats up behind him, pulling up into the lick as Freed completes his melodic statement. The Colonel is back with that funky crazy Howlin’ Wolf-by-way-of-Zappa vocal delivery, the band cools down as Derek solos gingerly. Freed totally “gets it,” responds in kind, then some call and response between the two. Finally the drummers put the song to bed. A good time has been had by all.
The set closes with “Instrumental Illness,” a jazzy version that doesn’t quite scale the heights of last Tuesday’s take (the set list originally had “Les Brers” here, crossed off as the band decided late in the game to add “Illness.”) Oteil kicks it off and communes directly with your ass, into the theme. Gregg vamps over Oteil and some driving drum work. Derek does some exploration, with Gregg holding down the chords; Derek pulls at long twisted notes, while Oteil locks with the drums and the band runs again at the theme, Oteil tossing out flurries between licks. Warren solos into the false ending, then Oteil heralds the final round on the theme.
The second set begins with Kevn Kinney by Oteil on acoustic and vocals, and Susan Tedeschi center stage on vocals, and a guest keyboard player who’s name your humble correspondent does not catch, for a pleasing, happy version of “I Shall Be Released.” Warren plays some pretty lines, Kinney sings the verse, our guest on the keys plays some nice organ heat. Derek plays some sweet, glorious lead, then Susan sings. A great song done justice, more song than jam, but as I say, a great song. Yonrico Scott sits at Jainoe’s kit and Susan stays on, and the band stays in roughly the same feel for “Any Day.” Derek provides some showy flash before the verse, Oteil sings the vocals. Warren’s solo cooks and scores in a very Clapton-esque way. Derek takes off out of the final vocals, and you can tell he’s been playing this song in the big rooms; he hits at 10, then slowly cranks it from there, rings the bell loudly even as he turns to Butch and Oteil and signals them to close. It is another great one-two punch, this time in a very song-oriented, classic rock place.
Gregg counts in “Statesboro,” our guest plays some nice funk organ solo, then Warren and Derek offer up a four-handed solo over Gregg’s closing vocals. On “Gambler’s Roll,” Gregg testifies on B3, then Derek emotes the song, staying in the lines like a haiku. The band bleeds over into the next song, Derek playing some delta blues slide, giving way to a duel with Warren, a nice percussion groove takes root, Warren emits a radiating wave into the house, heralding the inevitable and hard-hitting “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
The band lays out smoky overture space, Derek and Oteil are drawn together, finally Derek does that chopping thing with his guitar to bring in the “Les Brers” intro chords. Soon Gregg is soloing over a kinetic three-drum attack, backed with the lightest touch of guitars. Derek solos with Oteil, then the two of them intertwine as Warren throws colored waves at the audience. Then they gallop to the break, and Butch leans hard on an insistent cymbal riff as Derek and Butch change instruments… here is a detail I have missed the past few nights. At this point in the solo, Derek is playing bass. He takes a funky bass solo over Jaimoe and Marc; Oteil, also on bass, is playing the jazz chords, then scats over his own chording. Derek has his back to the audience, keying in on the drummers (maybe why I missed this detail before, thinking he was on guitar and playing the chords?) Oteil offers a brief “Secret Agent Man” tease; Derek is nimble and insistent on the bass, sticking to a tight groove, allowing Oteil to play a lead role.
Butch sets up at the front of the stage on the bass drum, Derek and Oteil wrap up, Oteil moves to Butch’s kit, Derek walks off. Butch and Marc do a call and response, Butch in front, Marc in back, with Jaimoe and Oteil keeping complex time left to right; it is a 3-D, four-corner ensemble. Soon Butch moves to the timpani, and the vibe shifts around the big bam boom. Then Butch moves from timpani to his regular kit, literally without missing a beat. Langman, who would know, notes that the new Jabuma is a different kind of drum interlude, less a power solo, more full of breath and space. It has been fun hearing them learn their way around this new space.
The band returns, Derek offers a slide phrase and the band falls back into the “Les Brers” groove behind a Derek melody. Warren opens up the hydrant and floods the house with his solo, leading the band back into the concluding theme; Butch pounds the show to a close on timpani.
Audley Freed is back on for the “One Way Out” encore, and acquits himself quite nicely. There is a guest on Butch’s kit who takes a brief drum break, then Derek and Warren ring in the song again, a ferocious Gregg Allman teasing, coaxing the vocals leading into the final turnaround.
Before the song, the lovely Susan Tedeschi—looking like 120 pounds of trouble in a sexy green dress—makes her way to a seat on the Derek side of the stage. As the song and evening crescendos to a close, Derek looks back between the stacks, finds her, flashes her a $100 smile.