Allman Brothers Band at the Tweeter Center on August 26

A Review of the Allman Brothers Band at the Tweeter Center on August 26

, Staff Writer

As I walked through the Tweeter Center parking lot on my way to see the Allman Brothers Band some tailgaters’ stereo began to skip, repeating the riff from “Jessica” over and over again. I began to wonder whether the band themselves feel like that sometimes, playing the same songs night after night, year after year (Fittingly, “Jessica” did not crack that particular night’s set list). Did they suffer from this curse of a classic rock band living off past successes?
The band did not seem to care, and the crowd definitely did not care, that most of the songs were many years old and that there is now, and has been for some time, only one Allman brother. It helps that the band is firmly rooted in the blues, and improvisation, i.e. soloing, is the main draw of their shows. It also helps that these guys can flat out play.
Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks stood center stage and shared lead guitar duties, trading solos that ranged from the clean, multi-note runs of jazz guitar to distorted noise rock, but that for the most part stayed within the confines of the blues scale. Their individual skill was amplified by their co-operation and interplay, and they recalled the glory days of classic rock when twin guitar attacks were in fashion.

Greg Allman, on keyboards, shared vocal duties with Haynes. Each possessed a growl perfectly suited for the blues, but Greg was able to sing a little bit sweeter on songs like “Midnight Rider” and “Melissa.” The rhythm section was made up of extremely talented bassist Oteil Burbridge and a trio of drummers, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, and percussionist Marc Quinones, who produced a runaway train of percussion.
The pacing of the set was fairly uneven; there were long, dark breaks between songs as the stage and instrumentation was adjusted, band and audience alike seemed uninterested during slower, less traditional songs, and instrumental sections were occasionally very long. It was more of a blues show that at times rocked rather than a rock concert.
But, when the show did rock it rocked in a way that most bands are not capable of. “Statesboro Blues” was raucous and fiery; The Band’s “The Weight” was played as a bruising gospel number; “Woman Across the River” switched effortlessly from swing to straight eighth notes. Perhaps the best song of the night came during the encore as Haynes and Derek Trucks played Son House’s “Preachin’ Blues,” a stripped down Mississippi Delta blues whose lack of drums spotlighted the guitar even more.

The video screen behind the band displayed vaguely psychedelic imagery and plenty of drug imagery, especially the band’s trademark mushroom. This was fitting for the state of the crowd but contrasted with that of the band (a stagehand gave Warren Haynes some pills and water mid-set, but it all appeared very medicinal and not at all recreational).

If you are attending an Allman Brothers show you should know what you’re in for. Case in point show closer “Whipping Post,” a song with two verses, three choruses, and one key, and a song that lasted for over twenty minutes. At times it realized all the potential of the guitar solo to transcend speech, at times it was incredibly boring.

The Allman Brothers Band still believe in the power of the guitar solo. And while their sound and druggy aesthetic may seem dated, it is also strangely timeless. It seems that there will always be room for an Allman Brothers summer tour, album to support or not, and there will always be fans, new and old, who share the belief that the longer the solo the better the show.

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