Cher & Gregg Allman: Rainbow Theatre, London

ON THE FACE of it, Cher and Gregg Allman are one of music’s most unlikely couples; she a star of television spectacular and gossip column in America, he a quintessential rock figure who came to prominence with the Allman Brothers Band, one of rock’s hardest living groups. His career since then has been marred by drug and alcohol problems and a court case in which he gave evidence that was to send one of his friends to gaol on drugs charges.

The fact that Allman is now performing once again says much for the way Cher has put her husband’s personal life in order but the wisdom of marrying such apparently disparate performing styles on stage must be open to question. Not surprisingly it is Allman who dominates the proceedings backed by a slick eight piece band of session musicians — with all the virtues and failings that implies. The couple relied on R and B evergreens like ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ and ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’, a disproportionately high number of old Allman Brothers songs and only scant new material, an assortment that reflects Gregg’s musical leanings more than it does Cher’s.

Allman has a harsh despairing quality to his voice, which brings conviction to everything he sings and while Cher lacks the intensity to make her a comparable singer her presence brought sparkle to an otherwise lacklustre visual presentation and clearly does much for Allman’s confidence. Certainly the pairing was not as incongruous as one might have expected although the lack of sheer excitement the couple were able to generate hardly made for a memorable evening. But it was a triumph for the power of love if nothing else.

© Mick BrownThe Guardian, 26 November 1977

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