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| posted on 10/29/2014 at 06:21 PM|
The show began with the opening strains of the hallowed “Little Martha”. Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes brought Duane’s memory into the forefront of the show with an amuse bouche of the only song that Duane penned. The tone was warm and friendly and blue. The same tone continued into the opening of Mountain Jam which opened up the night’s story book and laid down the structure for one of the most heartfelt performances of my life.
The pacing remained deliberate and steady into “Don’t Want You Know More” the well know instrumental intro into “Not My Cross to Bear”. Gregg was in fine soulful, blue sad voice as he warmly wrangled life’s despair and hope through his masterful instrument.
Derek, Warren and Oteil simmered, keeping up the solid pace crafted by Butch Trucks leading the percussion. Constancy and steadiness steered the ship keeping the string crew from exploding too soon. The “One Way Out” that rolled out engaged and energized the crowd without being frenetic.
Those five songs served as forward to what would be a long, long night of improvisational craftsmanship.
Gregg growled out of “One Way Out” allowing Warren to half-step into “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. For me unexpected, but not out of place. The performance seemed flawless but the placement of the tune kind of tilted my perspective. Although I was in a familiar place, moving down a well worn path, I lost my bearings. Kinda like a footbridge being washed out in the woods, I was being forced to take an unfamiliar route on a familiar journey. Warren easily blazed the trail. His axe cut and dropped a clear path while Derek and Oteil caught and cleared any falling brush. The train was clearly moving down the tracks into a familiar place, a plaintive “Midnight Rider”.
A short pause before the appearance of “High Cost of Low Living”. I knew the tune had been scratched from previous nights set lists. I’d seen the speculation that perhaps Gregg’s voice wasn’t up to the task. I’m listening to the Sirius feed now and he sounds great!
A word on my seating and perspective for Tuesday’s show. I was third row upper balcony. I bought the ticket through Stubhub. Monday I was seated in the Orchestra, stage right in between Gregg and Derek. “Seated in the Orchestra” actually means standing. Monday night my sight lines were blocked. It is the price you pay for being in sweaty churning belly of macerating peaches. I’m ok with that. Throw some more sugar and balsamic into the mix - I’m committed.
The Upper Balcony afforded excellent sight lines, superior sound, a phenomenal perspective of the percussion unit, and plenty of choice. I could sit down, stand up, dance, move... In short I think I like it more than the Loge.
I must also say that I found the crowd respectful. I was barely distracted chatting or blustering either night. I would have liked the crowd to be a little more attentive to Jaimoe’s speech. I was impressed by the thick crowd silence afforded Gregg’s closing words. I think a lot of folks were bursting from their skin during that heartfelt thank you and goodbye. Those that were screaming were unable to bridal their emotions.
“Hot ‘Lanta” materialized out of “High Cost” a welcomed instrumental that engaged my mind and wandered through the streets and clubs I associate with warm Atlanta nights and irresponsible youth. I liked that “Blue Sky” moved me out of the city and into the country honestly moving me from thoughts of a mis-spent youth into a more centered and capable present. “Blue Sky” rides through my head most every morning while I’m hiking my dogs. To feel it flowing through me at the Beacon is a cathartic blessing. It overflowed my cup and spilled me out into the void. I had a pocket full of napkins to get me through the solos. I love the circular return to the lyric. I smiled but my head hung low. Happiness, beauty, sorrow - so much sweet life wrapped up in that song.
I was happy for a few beats in between songs to gather myself for “You Don’t Love Me”. Despite the subject matter it was upbeat enough to shake out any maudlin thoughts of farewells and endings. I didn’t want to get mired down by the reality of the last show. The first few notes of “Soul Serenade” however brought me back to the reality. That old King Curtis tune evoking Duane and being masterfully played through one of Duane’s guitars... the dynamics, the touch of Derek and Warren. I was hammered by the set.
I wanted to celebrate and by God that first set celebrated the celebration that was yet to come.
I’ve got to take a break. I’m just streaming this piece while I listen to the Sirius feed... please forgive any errors. My editor is MIA.
You might have to wait for the paperback for my thoughts on the second set.
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Ralph Nader's Father
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