The Allman Brothers Band gave an absolutely mind-blowing performance on this fine Tuesday evening at Northern Virginia's Nissan Pavilion. The weather was picture perfect, the lawn was open for business, and the crowd was just the right size.
There was the standard mix of colorful characters (not just the tie-dyed variety) – one guy in the beer line became my own personal stand-up comedian and kept me entertained for the entire set break between Ratdog and the Allman Brothers. He was hilarious – I can see an HBO special in this guy's future.
The band took the stage at 9:00pm, and the music didn’t stop for two glorious hours. On some nights, the boys ease into the show at a simmer. On this night at the Nissan Pavilion, they came out scalding with “Hot ‘Lanta” seguing into the unshakable crowd-pleaser, “Statesboro Blues.” They kept the hits coming with “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” and another audience favorite, “Midnight Rider”.
Then it was time for guitarist Warren Haynes to showcase some of his originals. “Maydell” sure put the squeeze on me – Warren’s vocals and the guitar play between him and Derek had me crying out to the heavens. I didn’t think it could get better, but the opening riff of “Soulshine” nearly brought me to my knees. Everyone within earshot was singing along during the chorus, “better than sunshine, damn sure better than rain.” I was starting to wonder whether locally-based saxophonist Ron Holloway would make an appearance as he usually does at Virginia shows, and then I heard that unmistakable tenor trading leads with the guitar. "Soulshine" is one of the best and most uplifting songs ever written in my humble opinion, and Ron Holloway on sax sends it soaring.
“Wasted Words” added some more coals to the fire, with Gregg Allman back on the microphone and the guitars hard and heavy. Gregg must’ve needed a break after that one, and the other sit-in guest of the evening, Ratdog’s keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, laid down some vicious piano on “Schoolgirl” while Gregg left the stage.
There was no relenting once Gregg came back out. “Leave My Blues At Home” and “Trouble No More” were solid as always, and the cover of Willie Dixon’s “Same Thing” was perhaps the pinnacle of the evening for me. In addition to Warren's sultry singing and rousing blues guitar, the rhythm section was locked in tight and I could feel the drum solo coming on. Before the percussionists got their moment, they shared the stage with Oteil for a thunderous bass and drums combo that was a force to be reckoned with, sending a rumble through my rib cage like a steamroller.
Once the bass guitar had been set aside, Oteil made his way back to the kits, giving us a total of four sets of sticks. It's great to see this multi-talented man getting more of the limelight. Typically, the drum time lasts for at least fifteen minutes, but this evening it clocked in at less than ten. After a short reprise of “The Same Thing,” the night ended with the two beautiful belles of the ball, “Melissa” and “Jessica.” This rounded the evening out like a dream.
I wish I had more hands so I could give this show TEN thumbs up!
Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
Soulshine (with Ron Holloway on Sax)
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (with Jeff Chimenti on Keyboards)
Leave My Blues At Home
Trouble No More
The Same Thing
Bass & Drum Solo
The Same Thing (Reprise) (with Ron Holloway on Sax)