New York City’s Madison Square Garden hosted a family reunion of sorts last night – “coronavirus” be damned – with a rousing tribute to the 50th anniversary of legendary Southern rockers The Allman Brothers Band. The all-star lineup named The Brothers, which featured founding as well as extended family members, treated the nearly sold-out crowd to a pair of marathon sets comprised of 24 career-spanning songs over nearly four hours.
Marking the first time many of these musicians have performed together in public since the Allmans final 2014 show at New York’s Beacon Theatre, original drummer and band co-founder Jaimoe was joined by his late-era Allmans cohorts Warren Haynes & Derek Trucks on guitar, Duane Trucks (nephew of late drummer and founding member Butch Trucks) & Marc Quinones on drums & percussion respectively, and organist Reese Wynans, who has performed with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble as well as Second Coming, a pre-Allmans group featuring eventual Allman’s guitarist Dickey Betts and the late Berry Oakley. The group also welcomed pianist Chuck Leavell, who performed with the band throughout their commercial heyday during the ’70s, for a handful of songs.
Kicking things off was the opening track from their eponymous 1969 debut album “Don’t Want You No More”. From there, the group largely stuck to the same material that made up the Allmans later-era setlists, with gems such as “Revival”, “Statesboro Blues” and “Black-Hearted Woman”, which featured a brief instrumental take on The Grateful Dead’s “The Other One”, a musical detour the Allmans successfully utilized with regularity during their latter years.
Leavell first appeared towards the end of the opening stanza, offering a nice percussive counterpoint to Wynans undulating keyboard runs on tracks such as “Come & Go Blues”, “Soulshine”, “Stand Back” and the beloved instrumental powerhouse “Jessica”, which featured searing guitar lines from the prodigious Derek Trucks.
The second set began as the first ended, with Leavell in tow and with the band firing on all cylinders as they worked their way through more ABB classics. A lethal combo of the epic “Mountain Jam” and the Dickey Betts’ masterpiece “Blue Sky” gave way to solid versions of “Desdemona”, “Melissa”, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “One Way Out”, among others, as the evening wrapped up. The double encore, which once again saw all seven musicians performing together, featured blistering takes on two of the iconic band’s most recognizable numbers, “Midnight Rider” and “Whipping Post”.
While there are no immediate plans to take this all-star tribute on the road, last night’s performance proved that the music & spirit of The Allman Brothers Band is still as strong and relevant as ever, even after 50 years.