Allman Brothers Band Play Epic Final Concert at New York’s Beacon Theatre

By Brian Ives 

It was a long show, even by jam band standards. The concert that was billed as the Allman Brothers Band‘s final performance featured three sets, two encores and even a few brief speeches by the original members; guys who generally never address the audience.

There was a real sense of occasion in the air at the Beacon Theatre last night (October 28); fans knew that an era was ending right in front of their eyes. In case you aren’t familiar with the latest chapters in the Allmans’ saga: In January, guitarist/singer Warren Haynes and guitarist Derek Trucks announced that they’d both be leaving the Allmans at the end of this year. And while founding member and namesake Gregg Allman told Radio.com that the band would continue, he soon changed his mind, and in June, the Allman Brothers Band announced their final shows, culminating in last night’s concert.

But at last night’s show, you might not have known that this was anything other than one of their hundreds of gigs at the New York venue; at least at the beginning of the night. They started with parts of the late Duane Allman’s acoustic guitar piece “Little Martha” which led into “Mountain Jam” (a song co-written by the original lineup of the band, which included Duane and Gregg, current drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, former guitarist Dickey Betts and late bass player Berry Oakley along with Donovan Leitch). They then went into the opening two tracks from their 1969 debut album, “Don’t Want You No More” and “It’s Not My Cross To Bear.” The playing was hot, but the thing about the Allmans is, they’re always so tight, yet explosive. So it’s hard to make one show stand out.

[only for use in this article] allman brothers band

(Photo by Derek McCabe for the Allman Brothers Band) 

But towards the end of the first set, that’s what started to happen, with “Blue Sky,” one of the songs written by Betts, who was unceremoniously dismissed by the other there founding members in 2000. (Some rumors had circulated that he might be invited to appear at the band’s final shows, but anyone who knows anything about him or Allman would know that was not to be. But the man was well represented at the show, with “Blue Sky,” “Revival,” “Southbound” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” making the setlist.) Warren Haynes, the guy who Betts brought into the band when they first reunited in the late ’80s, and the guy who replaced Betts in 2000, took the vocals as he has done on the song for years. But it was his guitar solos that nearly ripped the roof off of the Beacon. “You Don’t Love Me” followed, and after that was the first intermission.

[only for use in this article] Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band

(Photo by Derek McCabe for the Allman Brothers Band) 

They returned to the stage with one of their signature songs, their cover of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” which burned. It may be sacrilegious to suggest that this version of the Allmans — which has been together since 2000 and is the longest running lineup in their history — is as good as the original. That’s a matter of opinion, but damn, do they have “Statesboro” down. After the relatively mellow “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” they played “Black Hearted Woman,” with Haynes firing off an explosive solo. Soon the band played “Dreams,” a song that Gregg wrote for the band’s debut, and which has gone on to be one of the band’s showcases for improvisation. Whether or not you play guitar, it’s amazing to watch Haynes and Trucks’ apparent telepathy during the extended instrumental passages in the longer songs. There’s no guitar team today that can compare. In fact, one of the very few in rock history that does compare is the Allmans’ original team of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts.

The third set kicked off with one of the band’s few radio hits, “Melissa,” followed by two of Betts’ songs, “Revival” and “Southbound.” The band then returned to “Mountain Jam,” which went into a moving, and fitting, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” It was at this point that the gravity of the show began to sink in. Fans wept, women and men alike. It was closing in on midnight, and the night, the concert, the band were all about to end. After going back, once again, to “Mountain Jam,” the Allmans left the stage.

[only for use in this article] Gregg Allman

(Photo by Derek McCabe for the Allman Brothers Band) 

The first encore was another of the band’s epic masterpieces, “Whipping Post.” Gregg was a bit laid back on that number — the show had been going on for over three hours by then — but the other members attacked it, as if they were trying to lay down the definitive version of the song (and they may have done that).

The band left the stage again, to return one more time. All the members — Allman, Haynes, Jaimoe, Derek and Butch Trucks, percussionist Marc Quinones and bassist Oteil Burbridge — walked back out and stood at the front of the stage. Gregg Allman, not generally very chatty onstage, recalled his first meeting with the band that his brother Duane started all those years ago: “It was about 3:30 in the afternoon in Jacksonville, Florida, March 26, 1969. Never did we have any idea it would come to this.” Visibly moved, he added, “A heartfelt thank you.”

Jaimoe joked that he had two ambitions: to be a jazz drummer or to be “Mr. America.” “Well,” he said, “I gave up on Mr. America. I went to Alabama to meet Duane Allman. And there I was: a jazz drummer!” They then finished their set, and their career, with the first song they’d ever played: Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” followed by a group bow.

The band’s claim that this would be their final show seems credible; after 45 years, it’s reasonable to call it a day. However it seems likely that various members will work with each other in the future, and some of them will certainly return to the Beacon; Haynes’ Gov’t Mule has two December gigs booked there (they usually play every New Year’s Eve there); Trucks just finished a multi-night stand there with his own Tedeschi-Trucks Band. So, even if the Allmans’ circle may be broken, their spirit will live on for years to come in the other projects by the band members.

Allman Brothers setlist:

First set:
Little Martha/Mountain Jam
Don’t Want You No More/It’s Not My Cross To Bear
One Way Out
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Midnight Rider
High Cost of Low Living
Hot ‘Lanta
Blue Sky
You Don’t Love Me

Second set:
Statesboro Blues
Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
Black Hearted Woman
The Sky Is Crying
Dreams
Don’t Keep Me Wondering
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed

Third set:
Melissa
Revival
Southbound
Mountain Jam/Will the Circle Be Unbroken/Mountain Jam

First encore:
Whipping Post

Second encore:
Trouble No More

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