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The Last Concert (?)

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 15, 2020 11:35

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Coronavirus is canceling and postponing so many social events and places of entertainment, but I managed to see a concert this week, at one of the most storied arenas.

COVID-19 is scary and seems relentless. It's hurting our global and local economies. And it's heavily impacting the entertainment world and arts in general. My daughters and I were supposed to see a Broadway musical this week, and a concert in three weeks; both events have been canceled.

But I went on Tuesday, March 10 to see The Brothers concert at the legendary Madison Square Garden. So did thousands of other fans of the Allman Brothers Band, for this was the sole 50th anniversary celebration of the band's music. 

Were we foolish to attend such a large gathering? It's hard to say. Everyone flocking to the Garden that evening seemed in great spirits. Perhaps many of us knew that we wouldn't be seeing too many other shows in the near future, and this was our "last waltz" for a while. (BTW, "The Last Waltz" was a notable farewell concert, and then movie, about The Band.)

In fact, I almost didn't get to see this show because it had initially sold out. About two weeks before the concert, more tickets ("behind the stage" views) were freed up and I bought one ASAP. An obstructed view didn't matter to me, the music did. I've been a fan of the Allmans since the late 1970s when I first heard them on local rock music radio stations. I'd seen them in concert in 1989 and 1991 (and went backstage at one of the shows, at the Jones Beach theater, with a press pass). I'd regretted not seeing the band play at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre over the years.

The show featured one original band member, the drummer-percussionist Jaimoe, and several members of later versions of the band such as guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks (nephew of the other original drummer Butch Trucks), bassist Oteil Burbridge, keyboardists Chuck Leavell and Reese Wynans and percussionist Marc Quinones. (The other surviving original band member, Dickey Betts, didn't perform.)

Skeptics might have scoffed at this lineup but true believers, like myself, enjoyed the lengthy and finely tuned show. The band played so many of their early songs, and with so much conviction, that it was a true aural treat.

And my seat was actually really good; I had a great view of the three drummer-percussionists at work, and a large screen showed closeups of the other players.

They played amazing versions of their celebrated songs, from 7:30 p.m. to about midnight (and I regret leaving at 10:45 p.m. because I missed seven songs!). During the first set, I loved hearing them play "Revival," "Trouble No More," and of course the instrumental "Jessica" (part of the reason I named my elder daughter this). The second set featured a fevered "Mountain Jam" and a beautiful take on "Blue Sky."

The interplay and texturing were excellent and the sound was so good. The musicians seemed to lock in together so well.

But now MSG is closed. Concerts and sporting events are on hold.

Awaiting future live music!

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 15, 2020 11:35

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