The lights went down, and Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks took the stage, performing “Old Friend,” the last song from the band’s final album, 2003’s Hittin’ The Note. “Well, I’m not an old man,” Haynes belted. “But you know my time ain’t long.”
So began the opening night of the Allman Brothers Band‘s annual New York City residency at the Beacon Theatre last night (March 7). It will likely be their last.
In January, Haynes and Trucks announced that they are leaving the band after this year. A few weeks later, namesake and co-founder, Gregg Allman said in an interview with Relix, “This is it—this is the end of it. Forty-five years is enough and I want to do something else, anyway.”
Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes open the show (Maria Ives for Radio.com)
Still, it was an acknowledgement of the importance of Haynes and Trucks that they opened the show as a duo, without Allman or other remaining founding members Butch Trucks and Jaimoe. The Allmans aren’t a band to speak much from the stage, but the decision to open with this spoke volumes.
After the opening number, the rest of the band – Allman, drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, percussionist Marc Quinones and bassist Oteil Burbridge – joined the guitar duo on stage and launched into, appropriately, “No One To Run With” from 1994’s Where It All Begins. The song, now twenty years old, saw Allman and founding guitarist Dickey Betts, who wrote it, but was dismissed from the group in 2000, looking back at a wild life, marveling that they’re still around to talk about it.
The Allman Brothers Band in 2014 are somewhere between a classic rock group and world class jazz musicians. They do play a couple of radio classics (“Midnight Rider” and “Melissa” had the entire room singing along), but the fans show up to see how the band will bend and shape their songs, which they do differently night after night.
Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Oteil Burbridge (Maria Ives for Radio.com)
“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Dreams” and set-closer “Whipping Post” have been setlist perennials for decades, but they somehow sound different each time. The guitar interplay between Haynes and Trucks has, over the years, become equal to that of the original guitar team of Betts and the late Duane Allman.
At last year’s Beacon opener, the band wowed with covers of Hendrix, Dylan and the Beatles. This time, they stuck mainly with their own catalog going deep with songs like “Leave My Blues At Home” from 1970’s Idlewild South, “True Gravity,” a song Haynes co-write from the 1990 reunion album Seven Turns and “Worried Down With The Blues,” a song by Haynes’ other band, Gov’t Mule. Even with the more obvious choices – “Trouble No More,” “You Don’t Love Me” and “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” – the band perform with a vigor that belies the age of their senior members.
— Brian Ives, Radio.com