The Allman Brothers Band

Revamped Allman Brothers Find Their Groove

Melissa Ruggieri
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
30 September 2005
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, page D-1

The words might not have been there, but the band’s love of where it is in this phase of its career was obvious.

The devout will tell you this is the best The Allman Brothers Band has sounded in years – and they aren’t exaggerating.

Not content with rehashing the comfortable and familiar, this seven-piece version of the band – armed with the head-spinning virtuosity of lead guitarists Derek Trucks (nephew of drummer Butch Trucks) and Warren Haynes – loves to play, to stretch, to feed off the notes tossed back and forth without needing to make eye contact with one another.

Wednesday’s sold-out crowd of about 6,000 at the Charlottesville Pavilion contained the expected array of hippies – both youthful and burned-out – with a few members of the khaki clan sprinkled in.

With the timing only jam-band fans have perfected, the first drumbeat of the long and winding show was accompanied by the first of many whiffs of pot, a time-honored concert tradition for those hoping to recapture their youth.

But the band could not have been clearer, always sounding loose but focused. Derek Trucks managed some amazing feats on his guitar, often plucking its strings as if playing bass and zipping the slide guitar bar so fluidly that his instrument almost sang.

Debates could rage for days about who the better player is – Trucks or Haynes – but does it even matter? True, neither is the venerable Duane Allman, but this duo easily pulled the kind of squeals and riffs from their guitars that most players couldn’t even listen to without hurting themselves.

From “One Way Out” to “Statesboro Blues,” the Allmans locked into their individual grooves – Gregg Allman parked behind his Hammond B3 organ and keyboard, Oteil Burbridge quietly anchoring on bass, and the huge rhythm section of Butch Trucks and Jaimoe behind kits and Marc Quinones on percussion.

Gregg Allman’s voice, strong and guttural, growled its way through the shuffle of “Statesboro” while he turned out a nifty piano solo, then later rolled from the rough blues standard “Trouble No More” to the creamier organ bleating of “Soulshine.”

Haynes occasionally handled vocals, notably on the new, Stevie Ray Vaughan-influenced “Maydell,” a burning boogie-woogie romp.

But the loudest roars from the increasingly swaying crowd accompanied the supersonic trade-offs between the guitarists and Allman’s powerful tones, particularly on their version of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” an obvious favorite with this audience.

For more than three hours (save a 15-minute intermission), the Allmans flexed their way through seamless jams, rarely interacting with one another – or the audience, for that matter. But an unspoken warmth filtered from a stage decorated only with a video screen of pulsing psychedelic blobs and rainbow mushrooms.

The words might not have been there, but the band’s love of where it is in this phase of its extensive and troubled career was obvious.

© 2005 Richmond Newspapers Incorporated.

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