These Brothers connect, reflect and breathe vigorous life into their legacy.
The final, and ultimately longest enduring lineup of The Allman Brothers Band pulled into a town the band hadn’t played in 24 years for this 2005 concert. Their fiery interplay, and particularly the distinctive, crackling interaction between guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, was in full flower.
Judging by the performances captured on these two CDs, they were anxious to treat the sold-out crowd to a special evening of their magic. Legendary singer and Hammond B3 player Gregg Allman, founding drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, percussionist Marc Quinones, bassist Oteil Burbridge, as well as Haynes and Trucks, have all agreed that this intimate show was a particularly extraordinary one among the hundreds that they played together. So, where does this album rank among the now 20 officially released Allman Brothers live albums? Considering the band’s 45-year history and its various incarnations, comparisons would be debatable and then untenable. Although this is not the same band with guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts that cut the storied At Fillmore East album in 1971, this one certainly possessed at least an equal amount of enormous talent, plus the improvisational drive that resulted in music true to form, yet revolutionary all the same.
Following the lengthy instrumental complexity and majesty of “Mountain Jam” that they opened the first set with, the band plowed into the staple “Statesboro Blues” in order to establish a popular connection to the past, but also to have fun with the Blind Willie McTell blues in their own way.
Gregg Allman sings these songs — 12 years prior to his death — like the blue-eyed blues luminary he’s renowned as, the nuances in his voice coarser, but still strong and very impressive. All through the pounding “Firing Line,” co-written with Haynes and from the Allman Brothers’ then-recently released final studio project, “Hittin’ The Note,” Allman and the band shoot bullets of blues throughout the historic theater. One of the many things notable about this version of the band is that they had a repertoire of dozens of songs at their disposal, having added not only new originals, but several noteworthy covers to their concerts.
Their jazzy arrangement of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” sung with grit by Haynes, fits into the Allman canon perfectly, and affords the guitarists an extended opportunity to exchange inspiring lines. Trucks’ powerful slide solo in particular projects inventiveness unimaginable anywhere else but within the Allman Brothers. Concise, flawless, Allman-esque recitations of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” are followed by Susan Tedeschi taking the stage for Bob Dylan’s tender “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Derek Trucks delicately accents every beautiful note his wife sings, and also takes flight himself like a multihued bird of paradise.
Magnificent performances of Allman Brothers classics “Dreams,” “Midnight Rider,” “Melissa,” and the transcendent instrumental, “Jessica,” also add to the high quality and appeal of this album. “Warner Theatre, Erie, PA, 7-19-05” is a glorious Allman Brothers Band live album designed to thrill fans and newcomers alike.
The Allman Brothers Band
Warner Theatre, Erie, PA 7-19-05
Label: Peach Records
Release: Oct. 16, 2020