After 40-some years and several personnel changes, the Allman Brothers Band are no more. That doesn’t mean that frontman Gregg Allman has retired.
He’s had an on-again, off-again solo career since 1973 that has involved countless sidemen (and even Cher, but we won’t go there).
Five months after the Allmans played their finale,Gregg brought his own group to Minneapolis Friday night at the Pantages Theatre. Despite the familiar sounding vocalist and repertoire, no one would mistake this group for the Allman Brothers. With only one drummer and one guitarist, the sound was thinner. Moreover, a three-man horn section added more of an R&B flavor.
The performance just didn’t have the duel guitar fireworks of the Allmans, the rhythm section didn’t swing like the Allmans and, frankly, Gregg’s voice was less forceful than in the past, though he hasn’t lost any of his grainy soulfulness.
In short, it was a professional but not particularly passionate performance.
Allman, 67, seemed to be pacing himself and didn’t really assert himself vocally until the final third of the 1 ¾-hour performance. And, for some strange reason, the well-respected B-3 organist played guitar on too many songs, including inexplicably “Whipping Post,” on which he allowed piano player Peter Levin to take a key solo.
The set list featured tunes from the Allman Brothers and Gregg’s solo career (“Queen of Hearts,” “I’m No Angel”). The crowd warmed to such ABB favorites as “Melissa,” “Soulshine,” “Dreams,” an impassioned “Midnight Rider” and the inevitable “Whipping Post.”
More reminiscent of Dickey Betts than Duane Allman or Derek Trucks, Scott Sharrard proved to be a versatile but never thrilling guitarist. (He’s also the band’s music director.) In the tradition of ABB’s guitar exchanges, he sometimes traded licks with either saxophonists Jay Collins or Art Edmaiston or trumpeter Marc Franklin, who seemed to be playing out of the side of his mouth.
The band was solid but never really got cookin' like ABB always did. (Does the fact that the frontman had to read the names of the eight musicians from a sheet of paper atop his B-3 tell you something?)
While it was nice to see Gregg and his long blond ponytail in concert in the Twin Cities for the first time since 2007 at the State Fair with ABB, there was a lyric from a Muddy Waters tune he performed Friday that seemed to sum up the evening: “I Can’t Be Satisfied.”