The show begins with a swelling overture, I believe the piece that’s been called “1992 Theme,” then bam, right into it with “Don’t Want You No More.” Gregg, his hair down, layers in some soulful organ. Derek announces himself, then Warren. It feels auspicious. On “Not My Cross to Bear” Derek stretches out a note that gets fatter and fatter as time bends around it. Derek and Oteil share a moment toward the end of a concise “You Don’t Love Me,” and the crowd shows it’s appreciation for Derek’s solo, then Warren flies over chunky Gregg chords. “Statesboro,” then “Hot ‘Lanta,” short brisk versions with nothing wasted; at the end of “‘Lanta” Warren plays sweet crying leads, and the band lumbers to a big thundering finish.
A big drum beat, then Warren joins in, for “Spots of Time,” the first chance the band gets to stretch out. Derek’s solo is nuanced and empathetic to the narrative; then Warren takes it, goes hot, runs way down the neck, then all the way up. Another vocal section, then Derek plays some plump, juicy slide, Warren leaning hard on the chords beside him. Oteil wants a piece, so he squares off to face them, shimmying side to side from the waist.
“Don’t Keep Me Wondering” continues to be a highlight; on the folk song “Old Before My Time” Gregg wears glasses (maybe he doesn’t know the words, we speculate). The tune features some nice Gregg/Warren harmonies, and Warren takes a pretty solo, staying well within the lines of the song. Then Warren takes the band right into a positively nasty “Smokestack Lightning,” probably the set highlight. Warren growls out the vocals, then solos all dirty and nasty as the band rolls on. He even uses a megaphone to call out one “Don’t You hear me cry?” The band grinds on and on, before finally grinding to a halt; this one is rated X, just for the thoughts it puts in your head. And groin.
From here a fairly rote “Midnight Rider” and “No One Left to Run With” close out the set. The latter features a very short jam section, hewing close throughout to the Bo Diddley beat; Derek lays some scribbly slide over a drum-laden one-chord vamp on the close, and the guitars trade unison licks between the song riffs.
A lot of classic canon songs, but very little jamming; the crowd is happy, but it’s been a relatively earthbound set. Maybe things will change up after the break…
A pretty Warren intro heralds “Rain.” On “High Cost,” Derek surfs the wave on the extended outro that highlights the song, wistful, painting across the sky in sweet, colorful tones. A highlight. Then “Worried Down.” and Warren enters with a grimace; his guitar work is pure bubbling molten steel. Then Derek brings it and Warren punctuates his leads.
Warren takes the soloing duties for “Dreams,” and where Derek’s read opening night was ethereal, Warren’s is different, more linear; with Derek you drifted away; with Warren you lean in, eyes wide open. His tone is full and round; he hits an early crescendo, then brings it down, tossing off looping golden electric lines, then he brings it back up. Then “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?,” and of course the action begins after the song is essentially done. Derek rings out sorrowful joy, then he and Warren trade cascading, fluttery licks. It is impossible not to think of two nights in this same building five years ago, and the British gentleman who sat in with the band, and who happened to have written this song. finally Oteil signals the drummers, and moves back to join them as the rest of the front line walks off.
Back from the drums for a brief climax to “Why Does Love,” then off into the “Jessica” sprint. Derek does the high-wire happy dance, then he and Warren rain descending lines on each other over an insistent blast of drumming sent up from the engine room.
It’s Saturday night, we’ve got some time, and there aren’t a lot of guests requiring the “Southbound” gambit, so there is very little question that the encore is going to be “Whipping Post.” Derek comes out of the gate, plays a pretty melody that is nonetheless not “Whipping Post.” Out of the back half vocals Warren crafts and composes, weaving in a “My Favorite Things” tease, then takes us for a soaring ride, Derek chording, Oteil locked in, faster, faster– then smash! Back into the climax.