By: Jim Zahner
Savannah Morning News
Seeing an Allman Brothers show is a lot like seeing the past come to life. Songs that were written and performed more than 30 years ago still have the same energy and distinct sound that made the band famous.
Sure, Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, two original band members, have been dead for nearly that long. And guitarist Dickey Betts wasn’t there either.
But for those at the Savannah Civic Center on Tuesday night, it didn’t matter. What they saw was the best of the past and the present.
The past being, of course, Gregg Allman’s soulful singing and keyboard playing along with the pulse-pounding drumming of Butch Trucks and Jaimoe.
But what makes the Allmans different from other bands is their ability to constantly create new songs with new members.
Oteil Burbridge, for example, quietly but forcefully does his part on the bass. And guitarist Warren Haynes is back with the group and taking more of a leadership role — singing lead on several tunes as well as taking the last solos on most songs.
Then there is Derek Trucks — the young, slide guitar phenom who plays like a veteran of the group despite not being alive when the Allmans first started playing.
Those who arrived late missed an impressive opening performance from his own band, The Derek Trucks Band. He doesn’t sing or interact with the audience, but that’s because he lets his guitar do the talking for him. He showed off his skills as he led the band through several jazz, funk and rhythm and blues numbers.
But the crowd was there to see the Allmans.
Opening with the classics “Don’t Want You No More” and “It’s Not My Cross To Bear,” the band showed it meant business. With much of the crowd on its feet, the band paid tribute to Georgia with “Statesboro Blues” followed by “Ain’t Wasting Time No More” from the “Eat a Peach” album.
The band, though, wasn’t content to just play the classics.
Instead, they introduced several songs off their upcoming studio album “Victory Dance.” The new songs were well received by the fans — many of whom had their eyes fixed to the giant screen behind the stage showing all sorts of psychedelic images and colors.
The band got the crowd back on its feet with favorites like “No One To Run With” and “Midnight Rider.” Once again showing their roots, they closed with the guitar-driven “Southbound.”
But the crowd knew the show wasn’t over yet. As shouts of “Whipping Post” filled the venue, the band returned to the stage and, after talking for a minute, launched into the song’s signature opening notes.
What followed was an epic jam that saw Trucks and Haynes dueling on the guitar with Allman reaching deep down to belt out the closing line, “Oh lord, I feel like I’m dying.”
But Tuesday’s concert showed the Allman Brothers aren’t dying or even fading into the past.
They are alive and well.