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DVD/Video/Film Reviews

Live at the Beacon Theatre 2003

By Published: February 17, 2004

The Allman Brothers

The Allman Brothers’ DVD shot during their 2003 run at the Beacon Theatre in New York truly sets the standard for what such packages should be. It captures the band playing in concert with unadorned closeup footage that heightens the sensation of being there rather than intruding on your vision or hearing. And the bonus footage on the second disc of the pair, including rehearsals that give insight into the working of the musicians is as revealing as the interviews that capture the group’s camaraderie.

It matters little if you’ve seen the Allmans or not, the sensation of watching and listening to this DVD puts you onstage with the band. Close-ups of the individual band members alternate smoothly with group shots interspersed with stage perspective so that in essence you are in the audience and a member of the group. Produced and directed by Michael Drumm(who also did the recent Gov’t Mule Deepest End DVD), there is no trick photography or cheesy effects to detract from this viewpoint either but the greatest virtue of this DVD may be ironically that you can just listen to it and enjoy it tremendously.

The sound throughout, produced by the same man who did ABB's 2003 studio album as well as the forthcoming live set, Michael Barbiero, is immaculate, with depth aplenty to allow all the instruments, especially Oteil Burbridge’s mobile bass and the intricate percussion work of Marc Quinones, to come through in the proper proportion in the mix. Even when horns accompany the septet on Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” for instance, the arrangment is never cluttered. The lengthy play time allows for the inclusion of a cross-section of old and new material, again, an accurate representation of current ABB shows: “Come and Go Blues” is sandwiched between “Maydell” and “Rockin’ Horse” from the recent studio album, while “High Cost of Low Living,” also from Hittin’ The Note , sits comfortably next to “Leave My Blues At Home,” which originally appreared on Idlewild South , the Brothers’ second(!) studio effort.

The combination of material and photography allows you to experience the chemistry that makes the Allmans truly unique, now centered in the mutually empathetic artistry of guitarists Derek Truck and Warren Haynes; rather than simply replicate the interplay of the late Duane Allman and estranged founder member Dickey Betts, the two bring their own distinct personalities into play---hear them tradeoff during the new ABB workhorse “Instrumental Illness(nominated for a Grammy) and intertwine guitar lines in tandem harmony on “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” Last but not least in this charismatic collective is the grand presence of Gregg Allman: as soulful a singer as any of our time, his vocals these days, whether on new material such as “Desdemona” or vintage songs obviously close to his heart, like “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” resonate with all the passion he’s ever displayed since he debuted with his brother’s group over thirty years ago

If this chemistry wasn’t evident in watching the film, the interviews included on the second disc give even more insight into the makeup of the current lineup, suggesting that it took patience perseverance and pure hard work for ABB to return to its performing and record peak in 2003. The professionally affectionate give and take between Haynes and Allman as they recount writing together; Oteil’s humorous retelling of his audition for the band are enough, but to listen to young Derek Trucks speak so sagely of the band he joined so (comparatively) recently just before Haynes laughingly spins a yarn about hearing the wunderkind onstage at the age of 11—and wishing they could leave before he blew them away— is priceless. That’s not even to mention the impromptu rehearsal between these two guitarists as they play the acoustic blues “Old Friend” in the dressing room: a deeper display of musicianly camaraderie would be hard to find.

There’s even more to see and hear in the form of footage and photos take backstage and round the Beacon Theatre in New York City where the shows took place in March of 2003. There’s a positive sense of deliverance and gratification for the hard years in the easygoing exchanges between bandmembers and acquaintances which makes Live at The Beacon Theatre an almost ideal creation for a long-time fan of The Allman Brothers Band, not to mention a historical document of note. For the newcomer, it will represent a glowing introduction to a band whose legacy is now beginning to truly overshadow its mythology.

Details

ncoding: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
Format: Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound
Studio: BMG Distribution (VI)

DVD Features:

  • Filmed and recorded live at the Beacon Theatre March 25-26, 2003
  • Songs: Ain't Wastin' Time No More, Black Hearted Woman, Statesboro Blues, Woman Across the River, A Change Is Gonna Come, Maydell, Come & Go Blues, Rockin' Horse, Desdemona, Don't Keep Me Wondering, Midnight Rider, Soulshine, High Cost of Low Living, Leave My Blues at Home, Old Before My Time, The Same Thing, Melissa, Instrumental Illness, Worried Down with the Blues, Dreams, Whippin' Post, One Way Out (encore)
  • Bonus track: Old Friend (dressing room rehearsal)
  • Interviews
  • Photo gallery
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Full-screen format
  • Number of discs: 2


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