The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Allmans showcased in live performances

Over the past 30 years, nowhere have the Brothers been more welcomed or loved than in New York City. While the band and the city have undergone radical changes over time, an Allman Brothers extended string of shows has become a welcome constant for the Big Apple every spring. Dating back to the time of the historic Fillmore East, adoring fans from all over the country flocked to Manhattan to see some of the Allmans’ most inspired performances.

Their latest DVD release proves nothing has changed.

“The Allman Brothers Band: Live at the Beacon Theatre” was filmed and recorded on March 25 and 26, 2003, and proves that one of the most legendary bands in American history is still alive and rocking.

While the three remaining original members — organist Gregg Allman, drummer Jaimoe Jai Johanny and drummer Butch Trucks — appear slightly weathered and haggard (34 years on the road can do that to you), the band passionately stomps out timeless classics, as well as soulful cuts from their recent release Hittin’ the Note.

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Gregg, simply put, is one of the greatest white blues singers of all time — this performance is no exception. Whether belting out the funked-up Allman’s classic “One Way Out,” moaning the beautifully sorrowful “Melissa” or injecting fierce soul into the new tune “High Cost of Low Living,” Gregg’s voice is dirty, raw and in your face. He growls every note with a spirit and swagger that is the blues.

Perhaps the best example of Gregg’s soul can be seen in one of the strongest tracks from the Allmans’ new album — the deeply moving, minor-chord blues of “Desdemona.” Here the viewer can feel the sorrow oozing from each note and can actually see the singer’s pain in each bead of sweat. Watching him, you can almost smell the whiskey on his breath.

Aside from Gregg’s phenomenal singing and songwriting, the Allman Brothers were founded on the improvisational interplay of two guitar players. The tandem originally included Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. Since Duane’s death in a motorcycle accident in 1972, the band has undergone numerous facelifts (original bassist Berry Oakley also died in a motorcycle accident that year). Betts was expelled from the band in 2000 to make way for the current combination of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks.

While still largely modeled in the Allman/Betts mold, the new duo is intriguingly original. Haynes’ tone truly soars as he carves out finger-blistering solos, wailing and crescendo-ing, cutting to the soul of the band’s bluesy grooves.

At the same time, Trucks’ slide-guitar playing is simply ridiculous. Trucks (nephew of drummer Butch) is a 24-year-old prodigy whose soloing is refined and tasteful, and provides a sweet contrast to Haynes’ screeching wail.

With both founding drummers holding down the groove, the drums flow masterfully together, creating intricate polyrhythms and providing a steady backbone for the band’s flow.

As the old and the new team up to rock one of the most important theaters in music, you realize you’re watching American music history.

Just as you begin to feel an emotional drain tugging, the second disc offers multiple tidbits of extended viewing pleasure. Leading off disc two is a rip-roaring version of the Allmans’ classic “One Way Out,” the encore from the second night’s performance. This is followed nicely by a backstage jam session between guitarists Haynes and Trucks.

The extra disc also offers extensive interviews. Particularly noteworthy are Gregg’s accounts of the band’s history and his foresight toward how they got where they are today. Listening to his worn voice recount stories from over 30 years on the road is like getting a lesson in music history.

With the highlights coming fast and furious, you’ll almost feel like you’re there and on your feet begging for more.

“The Allman Brothers Band: Live at the Beacon Theatre”: A

DVD features: AB