Monday night’s show—the second-to-last, the penultimate Allman Brothers show ever—did a great job of clearing the decks, setting the table. The band brought the firepower, for the most part sticking to tight, concise arrangements—songs as opposed to jams—and filling these songs to bursting with white-hot intensity; they were in the red, turned up to 10, all night. The vibe was similar to Saturday night’s show, all dark bluesy yang, but if anything, less expansive, more aggressive and in yo’ face…
No prelude or shuffle jam, the band jumps right into a tight read on “Dome Somebody Wrong.” Both guitarists take swinging solos. “Leave My Blues at Home” is an incendiary throw-down, Derek and Warren in each other’s faces, clipping the ends of each other’s solos as they trade off. It’s explosive, corrosive, smoldering, and an early highlight; out in the house, the adrenalin is pumping.
“Worried Down With the Blues” is big; Warren puts on the Big Daddy vocals, and both guitars are searing. Then comes a triad of tunes that crank up the soul. “You Don’t Love Me” is the shortest version of the run, just the song itself; then the old Wilson Pickett/Falcons gospel/doo wop, “I Found a Love.” This might not quite feel an Allman Brothers style tune, but the pleading “Yeah, yeah, yeah” refrain is big fun; Derek in particular shines, as this is the kind of song you might hear in a Tedeschi-Trucks set. Oteil lays out some R’n’B funk, Derek provides classy chording over the top, Memphis style. Finally “That’s What Love Can Make You Do” completes the 3-song soul music interlude, Derek solos over Warren’s sleek and classy rhythm; on songs like this, the rhythm playing is at least as much fun as the lead. Gregg whips up a mess o’ soul on the B3, Oteil offers some tangy funk leads from the bottom, the guitars fall in with the chugga chugga, Derek and Warren swapping tart phrases.
The just-so story “Midnight Rider” is a little bit of a palate cleanser, before the deep dark muddy of “Black Hearted Woman” closes out the set. The band hits the closing jam oddly softly, Jaimoe and the other drummers lending a light, restrained touch as Warren solos over the top. The pull of the murky vortex is strong though, and the music steadily picks up steam as it accelerates. Oteil locks in, and soon they’ve brought the jam to the usual fevered pitch; they just took the long road to get there. Then full onto the “Other One” riff, Derek surfing over the top with piercing bottleneck… then seven men in furious lock step, as the transition riff flips this hurtling meteor back to “Black Hearted Woman,” and intermission.
A breezy “Come and Go Blues” opens the second set, and is followed by some ruckus, which eventually resolves into the “Les Brers” overture. The riff rides in on some big Oteil bounce. Gregg takes the first solo; as was the case in March, he’s taking a lot of solos, more active in the instrumental workings of the band, and the coloration he adds is most welcome. Derek steps to the fore, and soon he stops playing notes and starts playing tones, first scratchy, then full and wobbly. Then the band tumbles to a halt, in that way they have of stopping and spilling forward at the same time– slowing down… Derek lays out full, fat lines over a smattering of percussion, and of course this quickly melts into “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Tonight it’s another instrumental take, Derek playing beautiful elegiac lines. Warren joins on harmony, then moves back to chording; it’s a lovely little Derek tour de force… then back hard into “Les Brers,” twin guitars flying such that the distinction between lead and rhythm is moot, crashing full on into the drum solo… dreamy, life-affirming percolation… then Oteil heralds the music’s return with some jazzy waves. Soon Warren is assaying a hard-driving, drum-fueled rhythm, his lead vaguely resembling the “Les Brers” melody. He rides the percussive wave, finds the pay-off spot, camps out there a while before the band drives the song to bed.
“Blind Willie McTell” rides in somber and sour, Warren in fine voice, the band crisp and pitiful (Note: on a dirge-like blues, “pitiful” is good.) “Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” is propelled by engine room twin chording, and features a nice Marc Quinones percussion interlude over drums and bass. Warren squares off with Oteil, but trades phrases with Marc, with Oteil at the bottom of it all. Warren is a human torch, trading torrid flamethrower blasts with Derek. Slam, bam, now that’s the jam!
It’s Warren’s night for “Dreams,” and he pulls full, resonant notes like taffy, shimmers, undulates. Then further up the neck and round tones, and soon he’s waltzing around inside your brain. Then he takes one more run, scratching the sky… “Dreams” is such a majestic thing; it may well be the band’s very best, most quintessential live song. Man, I’m gonna miss it…
…and then, the other side of “Dreams,” a thundering “Whipping Post,” like everything else tonight, turned up to 10 and then some, a smoldering, terrifying beast hurtling forward. The band is running so fast that the encore, “No One Left to Run With,” begins before everyone is even back out on stage. It’s another brief, concise version, all about the drive, with Greg layering on some nice B3.
And there’s only one… show… left.