Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Total Immersion - Part 2

The Allman Brothers Band played their final concert on October 28, 2014 at The Beacon Theatre in New York City.

My friend Phil, the only other pre-eminant Allman Brothers scholar that I trust, bought the live CD documenting this legendary night and told me it was supreme.

He mentioned it to me on more than one occasion, telling me I had to buy it.

I did.

He did not lie.

This band was an exceptionally talented band. They rocked us from heaven to hell and back on a musical and emotional roller coaster that would just blow your mind.

When they were inspired, your jaw would just drop in disbelief at the gorgeous music they created.

The virtuosity they displayed on their instruments, the incredible tightness of the band that could go off on an 11 minute jam and then circle back around precisely to the point of take off without blinking an eye, the dedication to the blues and the worship of the original masters, all of this came off the stage in waves and raised you up to a holy musical place.

On October 28, 2014 they were inspired to the point of perfection.

I have been listening to the album on my rides to and from HELL and I have been overwhelmed.

Laughing, smiling, tearing up here and there, singing along inexpertly and deferring to the master - Gregg - when the song demanded it - I have been lost in forty minute mini-concerts of ecstasy.

Even the filler riffs played by Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks in between vocal phrases - 10 second explosions of guitar - are just mind blowing.

The version of "Black Hearted Woman" on this CD, all 13 minutes and 17 seconds of it, might be not only the greatest version of that song I have ever heard, it could very well be the most stunning piece of Allman Brothers virtuosity I have ever experienced.

And I have had hundreds of transcendent Allman Brothers moments.

Melissa, baby. Whenever you saw Gregg stroll to the front of the stage with an acoustic guitar in his hands, you knew you were going to be treated to "Melissa."

When I heard it on this CD, the tears trickled. I was thinking how many times I have witnessed this situation and how many times I have been moved by it.. I was picturing Gregg standing front and center on the stage of the Beacon Theatre, where I have been lucky enough to have attended three Allman Brothers concerts, and thinking I may never see that again.

BUT..............maybe I will. Gregg is now touring with his own solo band. I don't see him abandoning his signature song.

Whipping Post, baby. Could very well be the band's signature song. From their very first album. I have heard that song in encore many, many times in concert. The ominous bass rumble that kicks it off and the emotional build to Gregg's tortured words at the end - "Sometimes I feel like I've been tied to the whipping post...."

The band absolutely kicks ass on "Whipping Post" on this CD. I got the scars on my back to prove it.

There is a 4 minute and 10 second chunk called "crowd noise" on this CD just before the Allman Brothers launch into "Whipping Post." I'm assuming the band had walked of stage in preparation for coming back to do "Whipping Post" as an encore.

I listen to that noise - people clapping, whistling, shouting - I can close me eyes and be there at the Beacon. I can be there at every Allman Brothers concert I have ever attended. I feel it, I remember it, the anticipation, the appreciation for this band that has brought so much happiness into so many lives for forty five years.

And the explosion of applause as the band walks back on stage.

I've been there, baby and I will miss it for the rest of my life.

Before they play the last song of the night the band bids a farewell to the audience. Heartfelt words spoken humbly, as is this bands style. Tears, baby - tears.

They end it all with "Trouble No More", which Gregg says is the song that kicked it all off 45 years ago.


One line that is eternally linked with The Allman Brothers Band is "the road goes on forever", from "Midnight Rider."

The road, unfortunately, does not go on forever. But I have this CD to ease my worried mind and soothe my battered soul whenever I need it.

That, and my memory of having been at the Beacon on October 27, 2014 for the second to last Allman Brothers show, will sustain my love for the music of this band for as long as I have the capacity to appreciate it.

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