The Allman Brothers Band’s return to New York’s Beacon Theatre came to a triumphant end over the weekend, riding the success of 15 shows, over 100 songs played, and a guest list that rivals that of The Last Waltz. The Brothers moved into the recently restored venue March 9th and the critically acclaimed run is already being called the band’s best in their 20-year history of playing the historic landmark.
Over the course of the month, Rolling Stone was there for almost every note, from opening night to the final notes of Saturday’s “Statesboro Blues” encore. When our coverage last left the hallowed hall, bluesman Buddy Guy and jam legends Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell of Phish had set an incredibly high standard for the ensuing guests to live up to — a standard that was more than matched by the impressive list that followed.
The next night, March 13th, featured actor Bruce Willis on harmonica before appearances from the Asbury Juke Horns and Boz Scaggs. Pedal steel master Robert Randolph and jazz drumming legend Lenny White stopped by on the 14th, John Hammond and Bonnie Bramlett took their turn on the 16th, and Sheryl Crow broke up the boys’ club on the 17th.
In one of the poorest-kept secrets in recent memory, the 19th and 20th marked the first-ever onstage meeting of the Allmans and Eric Clapton. Slowhand and the band tackled blues standards and cuts from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs before encoring with “Layla,” featuring perhaps Duane Allman’s most famous riff, each night. Pick up a copy of Rolling Stone Issue 1076 (on newsstands this week!) for a full report.
Next up were Bruce Hornsby, who added keyboards on the 21st, and Jimmy Herring and John Bell of Widespread Panic on the 23rd. The 24th brought some humor, as the band emerged for their second set as “the Allman Brotherzz Band” with chest-length novelty beards to match special guest Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
March 26th brought no visitors, but marked the official 40th anniversary of the band, who celebrated the occasion by performing The Allman Brothers Band (1969) and Idlewild South (1970), their first two albums, in their entirety. The penultimate show featured Kid Rock and a (surprisingly) short, but nonetheless beautiful rendition of “Freebird” before Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Dead, another American institution, took the stage on Saturday to help lower the curtain on 40 years of excellence for the Allmans.
If you missed any of the sold-out shows, or just feel like reliving them, check out some of the best videos from the run below. The Allmans return to the road May 12th at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, before embarking on a short string of dates throughout May. They’ll help usher in another festival-filled summer with headlining appearances at Warren Haynes’ Mountain Jam on May 31st and their own Wanee Festival on June 5th and 6th.