Allman Brothers Band

Article excerpt

Reviews from across the country of the band that will perform Sept. 9 at Riverport Amphitheater. The (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call (Aug. 14)

The Allman Brothers Band's show Saturday night at the Allentown Fairgrounds was as tight as a drum, which made it both exciting and frustrating.

More than 10,000 heard excellent versions of the stomping blues and ultra-octane rock that make listeners scream, but none of the haunted ballads that make them sorrow. The jamathons were leaner, yet more creative; sometimes they were so imaginative, the regular sections seemed relatively dull. The percussionists thrilled as usual, Dickey Betts inspired more than usual, and a eulogy to Jerry Garcia was as natural as the man himself. Too bad Gregg Allman spent much of the evening as odd person out.

This is a fitter group than the one that played here three years ago. Back then jams were fat and interminable, mainly because lead guitarists Betts and Warren Haynes rarely strayed from the written moods. This time they were more like jazz players, conjuring new worlds.

Betts turned the playout to "Ramblin' Man," the third tune of the 130-minute concert, into an engaging dialogue with himself. On "Where It All Begins" he and Haynes took turns sounding like Wes Montgomery, caressing lines that were fleet and deep, warm and sweet. "Nobody Left to Run with Anymore" veered into a furious hand jive slapped by Haynes' piercing hooks and Betts' rhythmic bursts.

No tune went through more identities than "Whipping Post," the last of three encores. Haynes twice delivered vaguely Arabic, head-clearing figures. In the third solo section Betts turned the song inside out, launching an unusually centered, muscular, elegiac salvo. It was a dead ringer for the most ringing portions of Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane."

Alas, his solo was so startling, and so good, it made the return to the main theme lurch. It wasn't the only time a rich moment was spoiled. For all their innovations, Haynes and Betts still indulged in the narrowminded methods that give rock guitarists a bad reputation. …