The Allman Brothers Band took things to the next level tonight both by themselves and with special guests keyboardist Page McConnell and axemen Buddy Guy and Trey Anastasio at the third show of their 40th Anniversary run at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. ABB guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes both were up to the task of dueling with their extremely talented guests and the crowd ate up every moment of it.
I’ve been following the run on Moogis so far and tonight was the first show of the run I caught in person. Boy, did I pick the right night to show up at the Beacon. It was clear the Trey and Page rumors I’ve been hearing for weeks were about to come true when I entered the newly renovated theater to see Anastasio’s wooden cabinet set up next to bassist Oteil Burbridge’s rig. As amazing as the Phish member’s sit-ins were, this show would still be my favorite ABB show I’ve seen without a sniff of our boys.
This third show started the same way the first show of the run started off on Monday; Derek and Warren nailed Duane Allman’s beautiful instrumental – Little Martha. The rest of the band shuffled out afterwards and ran through a number of their more bluesy numbers before welcoming Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy to the stage for a nasty cover of Elmore James’ The Sky Is Crying. Trucks was beaming as he dueled with Guy – one of his influences – through a number of call and response segments.
READ ON for the rest of Scotty’s ABB at the Beacon review…
Fresh off their reunion concerts in Hampton, McConnell and Anastasio of Phish joined Guy and the Allmans for a blistering take on Southbound that found all the extremely talented musicians on that stage taking turns at tearing the song a new a-hole. Anastasio couldn’t contain his enormous smile and whispered sweet nothings in Guy’s ear while Trucks showed off his massive skill set. We had four of the most badass guitarists in the world going at it and each axeman added a different spice to the stew.
After a brief setbreak that found even the most jaded of Peacheaters praising the Phishies appearance, the band returned to the stage without Jaimoe and with Trey and Page. The ensemble noodled around with the intro of Blue Sky before drummers Marc Quinones and Butch Trucks started the shuffling beat of I Know You Rider. Both Page and Trey were set up with microphones and shared vocals with Gregg Allman and Haynes. Warren led the way on both the vocals and the solos, but not before Page and Trey added long melodic solos on the tune which they had rocked out with Phil Lesh and Friends back in 1999.
Following Rider, Anastasio and McConnell stayed on for an In Memory of Elizabeth Reed that found them gelling with the Allmans in a way that had eluded them during their previous sit-ins at the Beacon throughout the years. Trey patiently toyed with a few of the themes from the famed Live at Fillmore East Liz Reed before turning it up to a level I’m not sure I saw down in Hampton for rapidfire runs across the fretboad that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Anastasio kept building and building the jam to multiple crescendos with some of his signature machine gun licks. I could’ve died a happy man right there and then after finally seeing Phish’s Jersey boys shoot and score during an Allmans’ show.
We were about 40 minutes into the set when Trey and Page left the Allmans to their own devices. Now, I had seen the Allmans a few times on the last Beacon run back in 2007 and I was a bit underwhelmed with what I saw. Derek and Warren seemed uninterested and Gregg’s voice wasn’t as booming as usual. That wasn’t the case tonight as each member was firing on all cylinders. They played to a high level both individually and as a unit during 20 minute takes on Dreams and Jessica.
Now, we can’t ignore bassist Oteil Burbridge’s role in the madness. I feel bad for his bass. He beat the piss out of that thing all night long laying down some wacky melodies that led the soloists in different directions. Oteil’s bass tech must have to rebuild that four-string Fender every night after the brutality Burbridge brings to that poor instrument. The Brothers feature one of the best bassists in the game and he’s more confident than ever with his role in the band.
All in all, we got an hour-plus four song second set that was by a longshot my favorite I’ve seen from any incarnation of the Allmans. I’d say there was about five minutes of singing mixed into the massive improvisations as each member was feeling it on this evening. The Brothers were on all night and I can’t even imagine how good they’ll sound by the 15th and final show on March 28. Head to either the Beacon or Moogis tomorrow night when they return for the fourth show of the run, you won’t be sorry.
Set 1: Little Martha (Derek and Warren), Trouble No More, Leave My Blues At Home, Who’s Been Talkin’, Black Hearted Woman/The Other One Jam/BHW, Can’t Lose What You Never Had, The Sky Is Crying (w/ Buddy Guy), You Don’t Love Me (w/ Buddy Guy), Southbound (w/Buddy Guy, Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell)
Set 2: I Know You Rider (w/Trey & Page), In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (w/Trey & Page), Dreams, Jessica > Drums > Jessica
Encore: Statesboro Blues > The Blues Is Alright > Statesboro Blues