Horns, Guest Axes & Desdemona For Allmans At Beacon

We’ve reached the halfway point of what might be the final Allman Brothers Band residency at the storied Beacon as Tuesday night's show was the seventh of 14 sold-out performances that make up this year's run. Typical for this point in the run, the band is really in its groove – trimming the fat from its setlists and delivering lean, mean affairs that don’t scrimp on the monster jams but have a clear, forward-moving pace.

[Photos by Adam McCullough]

Such was the case with Tuesday night’s epic – a midweek sleeper show that delivered the goods, and then some, as one of the best shows of the Beacon run thus far.

Roaring to life with “Trouble No More,” the band kept up a torrid pace with “Leave My Blues at Home” and then “Rocking Horse,” which followed a patient, probing Warren solo with a shift into a Day-Glo colored, major-key jam dominated by Derek. The “Horse” takes an interesting path these days; Derek’s solo seems to build, in fits and lilts, into something warm and triumphant before dropping abruptly back into the song bridge. It was invigorating to have such a worked-through jam so early in the show, and the first set didn’t lose steam, following “Horse” with the sticky country blues of “Low Down Dirty Mean,” a soaring “Revival” and a brisk “Egypt.”

Returning for the third time this Beacon run, the Asbury Jukes horn section was back in action for the remainder of the frame. The band tried out “I Found a Love” again – on- point, but not nearly as successful as last Wednesday’s version – and then found its pocket with a gorgeous, melancholy take on The Band’s “It Makes No Difference.” A newer Allmans cover, Warren took over lead vocals, the horns swelled and the depth and deep soul of this version brought a standing ovation from much of the audience.

[2012 Beacon Run Performance of "It Makes No Difference" via Rick Randall]

Closing out the set was the customary “Same Thing” pile-on, complete with dazzling solos and guest appearances from Yonrico Scott and percussionist Cyril Neville. The story of this one, however, was Oteil, who delivered one of those classic “virtuosity really can look this easy” Oteil solos, and then waved off a Derek interjection, wanting to extend his spotlight a bit more and finding no argument.

Usually by this point in the run, the band’s setlists show many an asterisk, and one thing that’s defined this Allmans Beacon stand so far is its comparative lack of guests. That changed tonight, though, not only with the Juke horns but also with an always-exciting appearance from Robert Randolph, who mounted a pedal steel – standing, not sitting down – and ripped through “One Way Out,” matching Warren and Derek head-cut for head-cut to start the second set. Randolph’s sit-in was all-too-brief, but the band kept the pace steady with “Done Somebody Wrong” and – at last! – the simmering acid-blues of “Desdemona,” which featured strong Gregg vocals and another opportunity for guitar lightning.

The horns returned for another round of “Feel Like Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home” and a vicious “Stand Back” that saw a wall of brass-and-woodwinds forming the backdrop for yet another guitar battle. “Please Call Home,” though tender, was a questionable choice for so late in the show, but with the horns exiting, the band grabbed hold of “Mountain Jam” to close things out.

The lateness of the hour suggested a short climb through this most quintessential of Allman Brothers workouts, but what emerged was the full-monty “Mountain Jam,” an eagerly explored, heavily extended version that didn’t hold back and included some different elements. Instead of his usual generic “solo,” Gregg worked his organ harder than usual, teasing the keyboard lines from “Hot ‘Lanta” and working enough filigree into his piece to earn “cool, look at that” glances from both guitarists.

Massive guitar excursions from Derek and Warren yielded to a full drums segment, in which Butch, Jaimoe and Marc were joined by Oteil, blasting away on Butch’s kit while Mr. Trucks himself pounded the tympani. This “Mountain Jam” kept going and going – even the usual post-drums noodlefest turned into a clawing solo by Derek before finally finding its way back to the main melody.

The need for a quick encore and the fact that the horn mic stands were still onstage meant the inevitable “Southbound,” but the band tucked in one more surprise: a sit-in from veteran Connecticut blues guitarist Jeff Pitchell, who ripped his solo with admirable assurance.

It’ll be interesting to see what the band has in store for the second half of the run. If the first seven shows are an accurate guidepost, 2014 is shaping up to be a pantheon- worthy Beacon stand.

Set One: Trouble No More, Leave My Blues at Home, Rocking Horse, Low Down Dirty Mean, Revival, Egypt, I Found a Love*, It Makes No Difference*, The Same Thing*^%

Set Two: One Way Out#, Done Somebody Wrong, Desdemona, Feel Like Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home*, Stand Back*, Please Call Home*, Mountain Jam

Encore: Southbound*&

* w/Asbury Jukes horns
^ w/Yonrico Scott, drums
% w/ Cyril Neville, percussion
# w/Robert Randolph, pedal steel
& w/Jeff Pitchell, guitar

The Songs - Allman Brothers Band Beacon Run 2014:

1983 - 1
Ain't Wastin' Time No More - 2
Black Hearted Woman - 2
Blind Willie McTell - 1
Blue Sky - 2
Come and Go Blues - 2
Come On In My Kitchen - 1
Desdemona - 1
Done Somebody Wrong - 3
Don't Keep Me Wonderin' - 3
Don't Want You No More - 2
Dreams - 2
Dusk Till Dawn - 2
Egypt - 3
End Of The Line - 1
Every Hungry Woman - 1
Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home - 2
Gambler's Roll - 1
Get On With Your Life - 2
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl - 1
High Cost Of Low Living - 1
Hoochie Coochie Man - 2
Hot 'Lanta - 3
I Found A Love - 2
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed - 2
Into The Mystic - 1
It Makes No Difference - 1
It's Not My Cross To Bear - 2
I Walk On Gilded Splinters - 2
Jessica - 2
Leave My Blues At Home - 3
Les Brers In A Minor - 1
Little Martha - 1
Low Down Dirty Mean - 2
Melissa - 2
Midnight Rider - 3
Mountain Jam - 2
No One To Run With - 3
Old Before My Time - 1
Old Friend - 1
One Way Out - 3
Please Call Home - 2
Rain - 2
Revival - 3
Rocking Horse - 3
Sailin' 'Cross The Devil's Sea - 1
Same Thing - 2
Seven Turns - 2
Smokestack Lightning - 1
Soulshine - 1
Southbound - 3
Spots of Time - 2
Stand Back - 2
Statesboro Blues - 3
That's What Love Will Make You Do - 1
The Sky Is Crying - 1
The Weight - 1
Trouble No More - 3
True Gravity - 3
Wasted Words - 1
Whipping Post - 2
Who's Been Talking - 1
Who To Believe - 1
Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? - 1
Woman Across The River - 1
Worried Down With The Blues - 2
You Don't Love Me - 3

[Published on: 3/19/14]

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