This will be the first of many Allman Brothers Band (ABB) concert reviews as I’ve seen the band many times. By looking at my stubs it’s at least 13 times. Most of the shows were at this venue, Walnut Creek Pavilion. The Allman Brothers Band held the distinction of playing the venue every year for the first 19 years. The only reason the streak stopped was due to Gregg Allman overcoming hepatitis and getting healthy enough to tour again.
I have to admit that I’ve seen other bands more times in clubs. This is the most concerts for an artist of their stature, being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for instance. I was a latecomer to seeing the Allman Brothers Band as I was not a big fan until after college and moved to DC. A big reason that I became interested was Warren Haynes. I really like Gov’t Mule when they first came out and wanted to see Warren play with ABB.
What made this show special for me was that I had been listening to Eat A Peach all week long wanting to hear some of the songs. The Brothers did not let me down as they played several songs off this album and played them early in the set that was very nice after the extended listening all week.
The Drive-By Truckers opened up and had a great opening set. I’ve seen them a few times and need to get into their catalog more. I enjoy their sound and they sounded good.
Reviewing this setlist makes me happy that I purchased the Instant Live recording of the show. Even though the Allman Brothers Band allows tapers to record the show, few tapers post the files online. It’s still an old school network among ABB tapers. Instant Live and other services allow you to typically buy the show approx 60 minutes after the show. But you can also order the show from their online store which is what I do since you. That way you can see how much you really liked the show before purchasing.
ABB opened up with Les Brers in A Minor, the beuatiful instrumental from Eat a Peach. I immediately knew this was going to be a good show. I love instrumentals and the way this song builds with its melody and weaves jazz, rock and a bit of funk. They followed with Statesboro Blues, a cover song that they’ve come to own in the modern era.
Next was Ain’t Wastin Time No More and it went from good to great! Another beautiful song Gregg Allman wrote after his brother Duane Allman passed. Well I had gotten my wish, ABB opened with 3 great songs off Eat a Peach.
The next 2 songs were newer ones released off Hittin the Note. Then came Stand Back which I had really grown to appreciate the prior week while listening to Eat a Peach. The groovy sound it has really captures the 70s rock sound. Greg’s voice was sounding great, Warren and Derrick Trucks were switching off slide guitar leads like nobody else can and the bass and drums were keeping the uptempo beat.
Southbound was next and this was a great version. ABB had left this off the setlist the past few years after Dickey Betts left the band so it was nice to hear it again. Always like how Warren fills in the backing vocals with that baritone voice. John Neff of Drive-by Truckers sat in for the song and added some extra guitar sound and it kicked ass. The next song was a cover of The Weight by The Band. One of my all time favorite songs and If you can’t have Levon Helm singing this one, Warren does a nice job filling in.
Dreams followed and this is the point in the show where if it ended now you were satisfied. If you’ve never seen Gregg Allman perform this song live it should be on your list to see. Don’t Keep Me Wondering followed and this song has a great ending where it repeats the closing guitar refrain and jams out. The next song is another favorite, Melissa. I’ve heard this song my whole life and it always touches me how beautiful of song it is and it’s another gem from Eat A Peach.
All this set up the massive jam fest that would close out the show. The sequence starts with a Muddy Waters cover, The Same Thing>JaBuMa>Mountain Jam>Smokestack Lightning>Mountain Jam and it was one of the best sequences I’ve ever seen ABB p
lay. JJ Grey of Mofro played harmonica and vocals on Smokestack Lightning. The slow intro of Smokestack with Warrens guitar and JJ’s harmonica was bluesy as could be. It was a nice break up of Mountain Jam as well.
After a short intermission the encore was Revival, another fantastic intstrumental. I had not heard this song many times and was happy to hear it versus some of the other songs they tend to close with like Nobody Left to Run With.
I hope to catch the Allman Brothers Band this year as it’s their final year of playing. Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks will be leaving the band at the end of this year to devote themselves to Gov’t Mule and Derek Trucks band respectively.
There was a good airing of the Allman Brothers Band history on NPR last weekend as well. Here is a review of the new book, One Way Out about the history of the band.
If you get a chance to see the Allman Brothers Band this year and you’ve never seen them, take the opportunity and go. It may be their last tour and they are truly one of the greatest live bands in the history of rock.