Bound to Keep On Ridin': The Allman Brothers Summer Tour 2005
Playing a somewhat shorter, and noticeably more conservative set than has been their custom this summer's tour, ABB populated their two hours on the Vermont stage with familiar material that was nevertheless freshened by their own musicianship. just the inclusion of "Wasted Words and/or "Come and Go Blues, from the band's 70's period, would've set a wholly different mood to this show. The rare appearance of the melodramatic yet succinct instrumental, "Hot 'Lanta, (which only ever appeared on Live at Fillmore East), was, therefore, a definite bonus!.
Yet listening to wunderkind bassist Oteil Burbridge's elongated runs during "Midnight Rider will keep the regular ABB concert attendee as transfixed as the recent Allman concert returnee just happy to hear it. The volume of the sound system reduced from the blare of the previous act increased the clarity afforded The Allmans, whose sound is rife with much detail.
An ideal set-opener, "Revival, , suggested how the current lineup boasts all the ingenuity and telepathic interplay of the original six-man band. Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes execute the sharp guitar runs with as much ease as they harmonize with their instruments. "Rockin' Horse is always a showpiece for Haynes, now perhaps a more genuine piece of autobiography than ever these days in the wake of his recent absence from the road: he never fails to ratchet up the power at his command any given night during this song of his and it was here how clearly more fluid his playing is becoming the longer collaborates with Trucks.
A common set closer in recent months, the appearance of "Dreams at approximately halfway through the set signaled the distinct possibility of a surprise closer. But the intensity with which Haynes rendered his fiery solo had to cement your attention even as it was a precursor to Truck's spotlight, within which he displayed a whole new level of patience, detail and finesse than that for which he's becoming famous. His closing statement on the thrilling "Mountain Jam, was similarly mesmerizing, even to Trey Anastasio, who had slipped onstage during the opening trills of this famous instrumental.
The former Phish guitarist had to overcome equipment snafus that delayed his entry into the improvisation, but he proved his mettle on the piece, twirling off an extended solo that raised the bar for the rest of the musicians on stage. Burbridge galloped through a solo where he strummed as well as fingerpicked his way up and down his fretboard after Haynes nailed an alternate melody line to the theme, before Derek's first eloquent exposition. And this doesn't count the rhythmic assurance of drummers Butch Trucks and Jaime plus Marc Quinones who despite having no drum solo this evening (hence the short set!?) acquitted themselves more than admirably by propelling the band to its high-flying climax.
The Allmans have played Vermont more than a few times in the past at various junctures of their career. The original lineup at UVM in 1971, an early stop on the '89 reunion tour as well as stops at Stowe(and a return to the University) in the early 90's. Thus, Gregg's passing comment about returning to the Green Mountains fairly soon carries some credence, but no more so than that which arose from polish and professionalism doled out by he and his comrades this year at The Champlain Valley Exposition.
The last stop on a tour set to resume about two weeks later finds ABB on the threshold of yet another artistic rite of passage. With word of new studio recording in the air, plus the continuation of DTB and Mule work, The Allmans are now faced with taking another step forward to avoid the very fossilization that afflicts their Vermont openers 38 Special. ABB certainly has the repertoire over thirty-five years worth ! to keep themselves and their audiences fresh, and, if the Massachusetts gig was any indication, their audience is evolving with them, allowing for a more-open-minded approach to the choice of material as well as the presentation of it., The Allman Brothers Band are once again primed to rise to the occasion as they've done so often in the past.
It seems like a long time between now and Beacon 2006, but time can fly...