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Live Reviews

Bound to Keep On Ridin': The Allman Brothers Summer Tour 2005

By Published: September 17, 2005
Expectations usually run high for The Allman Brothers summer appearances at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield MA. and little wonder: the band has made at least one stop in the commonwealth each year for over a decade. Anticipation heightened this year due to the absence of Warren Haynes from the ABB lineup for the first week of this tour (with no single reliable explanation). Add to that the real possibility of guesting from former Allmans pianist Chuck Leavell, in the area this weekend to begin another tenure with The Rolling Stones slated to play at Fenway in Boston, and you've got bonafide drama. All of which crystallized during the two and a half hour set the Allmans played following a fairly lengthy opening from moe. Through full pristine sound in contrast to the downturn of venue audio, he "Instant Live cd's available after the show posit a band fluid and focused, right down to the here-man rhythm section. Whether the natural evolution of the audience, or the presence of a sizable cross-section of jamband fans, the Tweeter crowd on hand this night was noticeably less rowdy and proportionately more attentive than in years past.

And deservedly so. The Allman Brothers Band proved again how a band can continually stretch itself by reaching both forward and backward, reintroducing staples from their earlier repertoire while proffering new material that's on par with and perhaps superior to those 'old' selections. Leavell set the tone for the barrelhouse tenor of the "Southbound' encore, moving Haynes, guitar partner Derek Trucks and bassist Oteil Burbridge to a series of spirited call and response interludes

Such empathy was typical of the well-oiled and inspired interaction of the band, which compensated for mundane and occasionally sloppy moments. "Revival is a great choice to kick off a set, with its high-altitude, angular harmony guitars, but the group ought to think about performing it strictly as an instrumental if Gregg can't master the vocal cues. Not to mention the somewhat dated sentiment of the 'Love is everywhere' lyrics, though there was more than a little reciprocal affection in the air at this point. Gregg's husky voice gave an authentic ambience to "Soulshine, but Warren Haynes' snappy take on Little Milton's "Who's Been Talking would've suffice as homage to the recently deceased bluesman. "Every Hungry Woman was memorable for the fierce interplay between Haynes and partner guitarist Derek Trucks' but the band didn't exactly charge through the riff upon which the song is built.

In contrast, The Allmans reached flashpoint on their new instrumental "Egypt. In an almost casual introduction of the complex melody line, the band lulled the audience, who then heard the ensemble escalate to an absolutely incendiary level during the mid-section of the tune: authored by bassist, Oteil Burbridge(who otherwise kept a low profile this night, with no solo and no vocal), this piece is an extension of the concept of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, and may conceivably replace that Dickey Bett's tune: it is becoming a thing of majesty.

The other high point of he evening, however, occurred on another song written by the departed founding guitarist. Chuck Leavell, who appeared on four numbers this evening— given the gracious nod of separate introductions to allow both he and the crowd to acknowledge each other and ABB—danced through his formal solo as originally recorded, but not before he offered another more intricate interlude,

But that wasn't the high point of the performance, which rose to stratospheric heights on the wings of the dual guitars and the overall excitement of the band as a whole. The Allman Brothers are rediscovering this touchstone of their history and in so doing(as they have repeatedly over the last three years in particular,) revitalizing themselves in the process.

Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Jct, VT, August 28th

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