The Allman Brothers Band: Live at The Beacon Theatre NYC 2006
Trucks' guitar work is a constant source of surprise and was especially so March 10th as he took the first solo on "Mountain Jam, the open-ended jam vehicle The Brothers used to bookend their formal sets. Almost as if to invoke their collective muse on an ever higher plane, the previous night's opening show of the Beacon run relied on tried and true blues, with Hubert summon sitting in, and an extended version of the ABB warhorse "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," it's no accident that Trucks set the tone of the evening as well as posited himself as the primary instrumentalist. He never appears to play fast but can navigate dynamics in such as way he goes from zero to 60 in a link of an eye and slows to tantalize with a slide just as quickly.
Like the subsequent star-studded evening, Friday had its share of memorable and not so memorable moments. Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited appeared early in the first set and Gregg, having noticeably lost weight since last fall, sang it with an admirable amount of bemusement, but if it's true Warren Haynes is a big Johnny Winter fan (having seen him rip through an adrenalized version of "Good Morning Little School Girl" with Mule in Boston two years ago), The Allmans did not present as completely crystallized an arrangement of the tune as they might. In stark contrast, The interesting choice of "AnyDay, from Derek & The Dominos Layla album (Trucks is set to join Eric Clapton's band temporarily this spring in Europe) was made all the more unforgettable for the galvanizing way it was played and sung: bassist Oteil Burbridge could not have displayed more gusto doing the lead singing and the entrance of Derek's wife Susan Tedeschi to add vocal harmonies was a stroke of genius.
The gutsy toothsome female then strapped on her own electric guitar to front the Brothers on "Feel So Bad, a staple of the Derek Trucks Band's repertoire and came out at the beginning of the second set as well, to continue the bluesy undercurrent of Beacon '06 by singing and soloing her way through Junior Wells "Little by Little. One might've wished d the other Allman family member, Gregg's son Devon, had been given as much room to move Saturday when he came out to play and sing on the perhaps overly-familiar "Midnight rider; " he might well have graced "Don't Keep Me Wonderin' another vintage but hardly overplayed selection from early in the ABB discography (it's on their second studio album Idlewild South.)
Devon's presence might also have injected another dollop of novelty to "Soulshine, but this Warren Haynes mantra always fares better in the hands of the Allman Brothers Band than when he plays it solo or with his own band Gov't Mule, where's it's a sing-along comparable to what "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" was, as usual, for ABB this evening. Gregg's supple voice brings gospel authenticity to the song while Haynes and Trucks made sparks fly on their call-and-response to ride out the tune. Much like the lightning exchanges and singing. soaring tandem guitar that elevated "Every Hungry Woman from just a riff workout the next night, the tandem guitar work, as well as the well-sculpted solos, not to mention Burbridge's booming intro on the thunderous reading of "Whipping Post was still echoing through this hallowed theatre when the lights when up and the sing-song tones of "Little Martha' signified the ABB were done for the evening.
Credit where credit is due to the Allman Brothers Band as they begin their year as usual at the beacon Theatre just off Broadway. While no significant developments appear to be in the offing for the group, such as a new studio album to follow-up 2003's Hittin' the Note, and there have been some questionable choices in rotation through the run at the time of this writingwhy exhume "Maydell from the last album instead of "High Cost of Low Living ?there is the palpable sense of ABB pushing themselves to a new level, since, for once, circumstance is not forcing it upon them. The evidence of movement is there is ways large (playing Fillmore East set list in sequence on 3/13 the thirty-fifth anniversary of its recording)and small(the light show may still contain the hackneyed biker footage for "Good Clean Fun, but is otherwise bereft of clichéd effect).