Don’t Want You No More >
Not My Cross to Bear
Leave My Blues at Home
End of the Line
The Same Thing
I Asked for Water (James Blood Ulner)
One Way Out
Blind Willie McTell
That’s What Love Can Make You Do (Eric Krasno)
No One Left to Run With
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
E: Southbound (Krasno, Barraco)
A lot of things can affect how you experience a show—where you’re sitting, your mood, the company. I think Tuesday night may have been my best time of the five shows I saw at the Palace. That might or might not have been influenced by the fact that I managed to secure seats in the second row, and was joined by three friends from work who are all younger guys (early 30s). Two had never seen the Allman Brothers before, the other had seen them, but not when they had this much game. So I got to experience the show through the eyes and ears of these guys a little, and they were all jaws agape for over three hours…
“Don’t Want You No More” is always a great opener. Derek is crisp, spot on; Warren is too. Then the segue into the slow-blues “Not My Cross to Bear,” Gregg snarls out the vocals, Derek provides washes of tonal metal. “Leave My Blues at Home” is about a mile high, soaring, propulsive; my friends are blown away.
“Midnight Rider” is up next, a song they play like a just-so story, the same every night. But suddenly, where the song usually ends, Derek goes on a little downbeat journey, and whoa, slap me upside the head, the song gets… interesting. One of my friends turns to me. “It’s like a machine!” he says. A big, industrial machine, grinding out the music…
“Forty-Four Blues” is impossibly rubbery, bouncy, and soon gets as slow as it can possibly go… and… still… be… a… song… Derek solos over the slow, then takes off into the misty. He leads the band to a spacy place, then they accelerate, the inevitable hurtling end-over-end depositing us right back into the rubbery riff. Derek colors the outro.
“End of the Line” features a nice guitar duel, then the instrumental “Egypt.” Derek steers early on, but soon I’m carried away to someplace dry and sandy… soon Oteil falls deep into the pocket, Derek tosses out some rainy chords that signal the theme, and then hard into the finish. Oteil is all over the room on “The Same Thing”; maybe it’s the mix or where I’m sitting, but for me it’s an Oteil sort of night. James van de Bogert is on Jaimoe’s kit. Warren, then Derek, then they throw to Oteil who scats and plays at the same time on a solo interlude, into a ringing “Birdland”-like bass piece. Derek lassos the Palomino and he’s off, and now we’re on the A train heading back downtown, mixing metaphors as we go. A sweaty work-out. Then an effervescent “Revival” closes the set, leaving love everywhere in its wake.
James “Blood” Ulner is on with the band for a second set-opening “I Asked for Water,” a snaky “Smokestack Lightning” kind of deep blues, a dark smoky ominous groove. Then a chipper “One Way Out,” then a searing read of the Dylan song “Blind Willie McTell,” accompanied by the appropriate visual aids onscreen (shots of the man himself.) The band goes scratching all the way to the bottom of the song’s elegiac blues narrative. Gregg and Warren split the verses but hit the chorus in harmony. Warren steps up and sings his tale of woe through the guitar. They have corralled the song and made it their own. Highlight.
Eric Krasno joins for “That’s What Love Can Make You Do,” a sprightly blues which features a killer three-guitar rhythm beast under the verse, then a bright three-man solo weave, Warren goes all happy on your ass. Then back to the weave, less like cutting, more like a game of hot potato, until bam! Derek throws it back to the verse, eliciting a collective “Whoa!” from the crowd. It is one of those nights where it doesn’t matter what song they play…
“No One Left to Run With” is up next, hard on the Bo Diddley beat, then off into the tune that now comprises the song’s middle section, the band just sort of hangs out there in the zone, then back to Bo. Out of the climax the band does a little musical space cleansing, then eases on into “Elizabeth Reed.” Derek takes long curvy slide runs up and down the neck. By now the whole thing is less a narrative than a head space; every song, every moment is a total facial. It’s one of those nights where everything seems to come so easily, no seams, no bumps. Usually that means the drummers are in the pocket… speaking of which, a hard drive to the drum break, about which I have little to tell because I let myself drift away on the ebb and flow of the beats. The colors in the light show were really pretty…
…Oteil comes out of the drum section all spider fingers, with the guitars underneath, gently purring him on, then a Warren and Derek duel over red beans and drums, on to the close.
Rob Barraco is out joining Gregg on keys for the encore, along with Krasno, so of course the encore is the “Southbound” circle jerk, round and round, Krasno and Barraco both sprinkling extra joy over the proceedings. Then off into the night, to search for a cab downtown.