The Allman Brothers Band: Live in Los Angeles

THE CROWD is going apeshit. A five-figure bunch of America’s Finest with cowboy hats and beer bellies are whooping it up like it’s New Year’s Eve in Atlanta till the Allman Brothers appear. And when they do, the place goes even apeshitter.

This is a devoted, raucous, nay delirious Allman Brothers audience out for a good time and getting it. And it’s less due to nostalgia, less a situation like on Opportunity Knocks where you get the biggest applause because you’re old or you appeal to the nostalgic sentiment, or because you’ve got some little kids in the act (and the Allmans had, too – brought on Gregg’s son Elijah Blue, little Jessica in her new frock, and Bonnie Bramlett’s tiny daughter even sang solo in the encore) than the fact that this was an excellent – as in long and consistently good – show.

What’s so surprising about this reunion gig (part of a five month tour that will take them to England) is just how tight and together the band sounds much better than the albums preceeding the split; more like their early albums in sound and content, partly down to replacing the keyboardist, who joined after Duane Allman’s death and declined to be a part of the reunion, with another lead guitarist, Dan Toler, and getting that original two-guitar bit back into the proceedings.

Dan and Dickey Betts spent half the time engaged in a battle of guitars, both putting on a first-rate performance. Gregg’s keyboards wove in and out of the guitars almost teasingly, certainly melodically. They’ve got two drummers and a percussionist thrashing out the basic rhythm and doing a blood good job, not to mention the moral support afforded by Bonnie Bramlett, keeping her hand in in case E.C. is passing by bashing hell out of a tambourine. It was all very convincing.

‘Enlightened Rogues’ is a good album, even if it doesn’t make any waves in music, and was featured among ecstatically received oldies like ‘Just My Cross To Bear’, opening the show on a bluesy note after an Intros-We-Have-Known instrumental medley. ‘Need Your Love So Bad’ (the oldie, but newie as far as their albums are concerned) was really good, as was ‘Crazy Love’, ‘Statesboro Blues’, and two of the record-setting encores, ‘Midnight Rider’ and ‘Ramblin’ Man’, which along with ‘Jessica’ caused the most delirium.

It’s nice to know that when a group like the Allmans make a comeback, they have the decency to do it right.

© Sylvie SimmonsSounds, 2 June 1979

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