Peakin' at the Beacon 2004: The Triumphant Return of The Allman Brothers Band
And this was March 27th, the night after The Allman Brothers of today engaged in the type of exploratory improvisation that only greatly unified bands will dare to execute, much less bring off successfully. After an opening set that was no more and no less than solid, the tympani rolls of Butch Trucks heralded the entry into “Mountain Jam” where Derek Trucks shone for the deeply intellectual guitarist he is coming to be, patiently embroidering melody lines and uncovering harmonies only he at first can hear. Never content to merely replicate the familiar passages but expand upon the improvisational concept, the performance nevertheless seemed to end too soon but the band’s collective logic, guided by Haynes, unveiled itself as, more than forty-five minutes later, the group rode out an extended coda to a powerful version of “High Cost of Low Living” that morphed back into...”Mountain Jam” again, this time with the bittersweet ending in all its glory. The linkage between eras of Allmans was too clear to miss.
All that said doesn’t mention the giddy sensation of seeing and hearing The Brothers slip into Grateful Dead’s ”Franklin’s Tower” on March 25th, with a beaming Oteil Burbridge taking the lead vocal full of utter delight. Connecting the two great improvisational rock and roll bands of our era seems in retrospect as significant as the group’s previous nods to Eric Clapton and The Band, not to mention the recurring homage to Muddy Waters, highlighted this year in the form of “Can’t Lose What You Never Had.” If The Allman Brothers Band were in some humble way, aspiring to the same heights reached by those artists, they should rest assured they have equalled---and arguably surpassedtheir peers and done their influences proud by making music that is never less than stirring and, at its heights of inspiration, genuinely awe-inspiring.
It made for an all-the–more exciting experience each evening to hear the adoring crowd that packed the little theatre. How rare is it for the performances of the band on stage to fully justify the rousing response of their audience? Peakin’ at the Beacon is sublime indeed!