The Allman Brothers Band kicked off the 20th anniversary of its annual three-week run of shows at New York’s Beacon Theater with a little help from friends like Taj Mahal, The Band’s Levon Helm, singer Teresa Williams and Bob Dylan guitarist Larry Campbell. Not that they needed it.
Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and the rest of the group were back in fighting form after being forced to take a year off so singer and keyboard player Gregg Allman could undergo treatment for hepatitis C. The occasion also marked the Allman Brothers’ 40th anniversary as a band, adding an extra air of excitement to the evening.
The group enthusiastically seized the occasion, thundering through classics like "The Same Thing" and “Midnight Rider” before closing the show out with massive solo showcases like "Blackhearted Woman" and Donovan’s "Mountain Jam.”
Helm and Campbell sat in on riveting versions of "Ophelia," "I Shall Be Released," and "The Weight;” while Taj Mahal joined them on "Leaving Trunk," "44 Blues," and "Statesboro Blues."
The Allman Brothers Band has dedicated its current run to founding guitarist Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1971, and they opened Monday’s show with one of his finest songs, the rarely played "Little Martha.”
“Duane started it all but we’ve done precious little to pay tribute to his memory,” drummer Butch Trucks said, speaking to the New York Times just before the first concert.
During the rest of the three-week, 15-show run – which ends Mar. 28 – the group intends to bring in a variety of musicians that have played with Duane, with rumors swirling that there could be appearances by the likes of Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Boz Scaggs.
The whole New York/Beacon ritual started in 1989, and the Allmans have returned 176 times since, including last night. Fans that can’t make it out to New York for the series can pay a $125 subscription fee to watch real-time feeds of the concerts at www.moogis.com.
Gibson.com will also keep you updated on each night's set list and special guests, so keep checking back to get all the latest news on this year's Beacon run by the Allmans.
Mar. 9, 2009
Set 1: “Little Martha,” “Don't Want You No More"/"Cross to Bear,” “I Walk On Guilded Splinters,” “The Same Thing,” “New Instrumental," "Midnight Rider,” “Leave My Blues At Home,” “Leaving Trunk" (with Taj Mahal on harp and vocals, “44 Blues" (with Taj Mahal on vocals), “Statesboro Blues" (with Taj Mahal on vocals).
Set 2: “Ophelia (with Levon Helm on drums and vocals, Larry Campbell on guitar and vocals, Teresa Williams on vocals and Brian Mitchell on keyboards), “I Shall Be Released (with Levon Helm on drums and vocals, Larry Campbell on guitar and vocals, Teresa Williams on vocals and Brian Mitchell on keyboards), “The Weight" (with Levon Helm on drums and vocals, Larry Campbell on guitar and vocals, Teresa Williams on vocals and Brian Mitchell on keyboards), “Blackhearted Woman,” “Stormy Monday,” “Mountain Jam.”
Encore: “Southbound” (with James Van de Bogert on drums).
See the set list for night No. 2 (Mar. 10) here.
Check out some videos from opening night:
“44 Blues” with Taj Mahal