By: Kevin McSheffrey
For Boston Music Spotlight
It seems Gregg Allman may be falling in love with New England, playing two shows in the Greater Boston area in a matter of a few weeks, and judging by the audience’s reception in New Bedford last Saturday- the feeling is mutual. What’s not to love when a Southern Rock icon delivers nearly two hours of his Allman Brothers Band and solo hits, as well as some classic blues-rock covers? The crowd at the cozy Zeiterion Theatre surely ate it up, while many of the attendants treated the show like an Allman Brothers Band-light show as some reeked of weed while others pounded beers in preparation for a night of jams.
As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman is used to playing with some of the best musicians in the world, and when he’s out on a solo tour he doesn’t settle for much less: Allman’s support is top notch. Scott Sharrard proved his guitar chops very early on in the set as the driving force of “I’m No Angel” and especially impressed with his closing solo on “Melissa”. Allman declared it was time to “get down and get funky” before covering Seals & Crafts “Ridin’ Thumb” and keyboardist Bruce Katz did just that. Saxophonist Jay Collins brought some soul to Allman’s “Please Call Home” and later went Ron Burgundy on everyone’s ass with a flute solo during “Midnight Rider”. Drummer Steve Potts was steady all evening and shined during a five-minute solo during Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Turn on Your Love Light”, as the rest of the band took a break. The solo had a strange reception because at the time the crowd was rocking and the solo somewhat killed the mood. However, the spectacular musicianship and the aid of bassist Jerry Jemmont’s funky groove led to one of the night’s biggest ovations when it concluded. Finally, percussionist and longtime friend of Allman’s, Floyd Miles, stole the show on several occasions as he was invited to step to them mic, belting out several rolling blues numbers.
Allman, himself, played up to his excellent standards behind the organ and on the guitar while staying mostly reserved on the showman side of things, skipping the talk for the rock, but he did let on that he has a new album coming out this June, which he worked on with Warren Haynes. The new tracks fit in quite well with his classics, one can tell he hasn’t lost his writing touch, or his voice for that matter, as his vocals still have that balance of tenderness and maturity.
Playing under a curfew, Allman ended his set with short, yet satisfactory versions of some Allman’s classics including “Midnight Rider”, “Whipping Post”, and “Statesboro Blues”. Although the songs weren’t the same epic rockers as one might hear in the summers, the jubilant fans packed at the front of the stage sure didn’t seem to mind.
The winter may seem long but there’s something to look forward to: With a new album coming out this June and the inevitable Allman Brothers tour, it looks like this will be a fun summer for Gregg Allman fans.
Up-and-comer Kevin Hammond opened the show playing with backing mates who he just recently met, but sounded smooth enough to make one believe they’d been a band for years.