Rock and Roll Hall of Famers joined current and former members of the Allman Brothers Band for a 26-song salute to Gregg Allman Friday night in Atlanta. Sam Moore, Dr. John and Jackson Browne took turns interpreting Allman’s extensive catalog along with Vince Gill, Derek Trucks, John Hiatt, Zac Brown, Widespread Panic and others during “All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman,” which was recorded to air on AXS TV in May. For the sold-out crowd at the historic 4,600-seat Fox Theatre, this rainy night in Georgia proved to be a dream jam.
Although Allman, 66, didn’t make his way onto the stage until nearly an hour in, some of the best performances of the evening came right out of the gate. Warren Haynes, vocalist and guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band since 1989, opened the show with 1973’s “Come & Go Blues,” fronting a lineup that included London’s the Killer Horns, backing vocals by the McCrary Sisters, Allman Brothers Band and Rolling Stones alum Chuck Leavell on keys, and the evening’s music director, Don Was, on bass. (Note: Haynes told Rolling Stone before the show that his and Trucks’ announced departures from the band were “not a surprise to those in our network” and that they “had been talking about this for a long time,” but he still hoped to collaborate with Allman in the future.)
Blues singer Susan Tedeschi (married to Allman Brothers Band guitarist Derek Trucks) garnered huge cheers from the audience for her gutsy vocal punch at “Stand Back,” one of the last tracks original guitarist Duane Allman recorded with the band before his death from a motorcycle accident in 1971. On Muddy Waters’ “Can’t Lose What You Never Had,” Robert Randolph carved the first deep groove of the night in a blistering duel between lap steel and six-string with Gregg’s son, guitarist Devon Allman.
When Gregg Allman finally sauntered in with his trademark blonde hair flowing one step behind him and took a seat at his Hammond B3 for “Statesboro Blues,” the crowd bunched in the aisles and began to wiggle with their beer cups in the air. Allman appeared to be fully recovered from his 2010 liver transplant and genuinely affected by love in the room, which emanated both from the audience and the players on stage. Singer Trace Adkins, for one, was so overwhelmed after rocking his go at “I’m No Angel” and “Trouble No More” that he shouted, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my career!”
Even the ballads felt energetic. Martina McBride and Pat Monahan refreshed “Can You Fool,” as recorded by Allman and former wife Cher, while Vince Gill’s sweet vocals brought nuance to “Multi-Colored Lady” from Allman’s 1973 solo debut, Laid Back. Rock fans dropped their jaws when the country crooner pulled out a mean guitar solo of his own. The mood waxed nostalgic after longtime friends Jackson Browne and Gregg Allman came out together with a pair of acoustic guitars to perform a first-time duet of Browne’s song “These Days” and “Melissa,” from the Allman Brothers’ Eat a Peach album.
As with most TV tapings, there were long pauses between songs, and after the three-hour mark, folks were itching for a classic Allman Brothers Band barnburner. That’s just what the encore provided. In a fifteen-minute take of “Whipping Post,” Haynes and Trucks sparred relentlessly atop Allman’s organ playing, summoning the memory of the band’s epic 1971 live album, At Filmore East. Then, all the artists returned to the stage for the traditional, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” The audience chanted for more, but the lights went up and Allman came to the center of the stage and waved. “Ya’ll are making my day,” he said. There’s not doubt everyone in the room felt the same.
“Come & Go Blues” feat. Warren Haynes on lead vocal
“End of the Line” feat. Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks
“Stand Back” feat. Susan Tedeschi
“Can’t Lose What You Never Had” feat. Devon Allman, Jimmy Hall and Robert Randolph
“Please Call Home” feat. Sam Moore
“Just Another Rider” feat. Keb Mo
“Just Before the Bullets Fly” feat. Brantley Gilbert
“Let This Be A Lesson To Ya” feat. Dr. John
“Queen of Hearts” feat. Pat Monahan
“One Way Out” feat. John Hiatt
“Statesboro Blues” feat. Gregg Allman and Taj Mahal
“Just Ain’t Easy” feat. Widespread Panic
“Wasted Words” feat. Widespread Panic
“I’m No Angel” feat. Trace Adkins
“Trouble No More” feat. Trace Adkins
“Multi-Colored Lady” feat. Vince Gill
“All My Friends” feat. Martina McBride
“Can You Fool” feat. Pat Monahan and Martina McBride
“Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” feat. Eric Church
“Win, Lose or Draw” feat. Eric Church
“These Days” feat. Gregg Allman and Jackson Browne
“Melissa” feat. Gregg Allman and Jackson Browne
“Midnight Rider” feat. Gregg Allman, Zac Brown and Vince Gill
“Dreams” feat. Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Allman Brothers Band
“Whipping Post” feat. Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Allman Brothers Band
“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” feat. All Artists