Thursday, July 27, 2000

No Betts on it, but Allman show rocks




By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

        This review of the Allman Brothers concert at Riverbend Tuesday night is hereby filed under protest.

        After all, how can the Allmans, one of the longest-lasting leaders of drug-counterculture rock music, boot founding Brother Dickey Betts off the summer tour for the way he conducts his personal life?

        Is there no room for improper behavior in rock 'n' roll? And how do these hypocrites justify the mushrooms and marijuana leaves flashing all over the video screen during the show?

        Yes, the music throughout the 23/4-hour show was just about all good, but Mr. Betts was missed. His replacement, Jimmy Herring, flawlessly played his guitar duets with Derek Trucks and all other pre-planned parts, but he played a lot of notes during his solos, a few of which sounded a little forced.

        Let's just say he's no Derek Trucks. Even though the young Mr. Trucks earned the biggest hand during introductions, he is underappreciated. He's sounding more like a genius each time out. Perhaps until he cultivates some mutton chops he won't be held in the same esteem as the late Duane Allman.

        With Mr. Betts absent, the set list was different from last year's Riverbend show. Early came the fast-paced instrumental “High Falls,” followed by Boz Scaggs' “Loan Me a Dime,” a blues song so slow they could rest their fingers between notes.

        And, of course, there was no “Ramblin' Man.” But there was a “Jessica,” the instrumental long considered a Dickey Betts show piece. And there was a “Mountain Jam” that — with drum solos and bass solos — was just plain long.

        “Midnight Rider” was a nice, mellow change of pace in a night filled with boogie blues and spacey jams. Lead singer Gregg Allman left his keyboard bench to stand front-and-center with an acoustic guitar, and he, percussionist Marc Quinones and bassist Oteil Burbridge sang pretty three-part harmony.

        It almost seems official, that the Grateful Dead's “Franklin's Tower” is the anthem of jam-band nation. It's a staple of an Allman show; they did it again Tuesday, with Mr. Burbridge singing lead. And half of the 40-minute set by Ekoostik Hookah, the hippie band from Columbus that opened, sounded like a dull rewrite of the song.

       



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