March 12th, 2014 was my last time seeing The Allman Brothers.
My journey with the Allman’s began before it actually began. In my younger days I had a roommate who played the Allman’s incessantly, and he was forever baffled with my general disinterest in the band. Especially because at the same time my favourite local group was a young bunch of upstarts called The Freeway Band, who’s guitar player definitely had a thing for the Allman’s. I won’t say he stole any lines or anything, but he sure did nick the tone.
Eventually I took the plunge and went to a show, and thus my love affair with The Allman Brothers began in earnest (with just a brief breakup after a particularly less-than-stellar show in Toronto). Over the years I went to see them whenever they came close, and eventually I started going to see them even when they were far.
Like New York City, for example.
For years The Allman Brothers booked themselves into extended residencies at The Beacon Theatre. These runs have long been legendary amongst fans of the band. I first made the pilgrimage several years before for a single show and it was great. Of course m’lady and I wanted to go to every Beacon show they played after that, but financial prudence got in the way. As time marched on and Gregg Allman started cancelling shows with more and more frequency due to failing health we figured the time was upon us, and with the realization that we would soon (in all likelihood) no longer have the Allman’s around to spend money on then we could darn we’ll afford to budget ourselves a couple more Beacon shows.
So we did. This show was night two for us (though for the band it was night four of ten).
Like night one, the band welcomed the Juke Horns to join them for several numbers, and for this show they also invited up Eric Krasno (guitarist for Soulive, Lettuce, and a few other projects) onstage for a couple of songs too.
Ah, it was such a good show, though it was a bit distressing to see that Gregg had an oxygen tank sitting next to him onstage (or was that the first night? I certainly remember Gregg being way more “on” at one of these concerts than the other), but overall it was a blissful joy to be standing in the Beacon one last time listening to the greatest southern rock group of all time.
The Allman Brothers Band would go on to play just eighteen more concerts (including another Beacon run), and while Gregg Allman would push into his final days leading his own Gregg Allman Band, by the time the lights went down at this show the magic was almost over.
Thankfully though, through the gift of recorded sound my joy of the Allman’s didn’t have to die when Gregg did, and I still appreciate them to the nth degree.
Sure do wish there was another Beacon run coming up this year though.