Review by Daniel Hornecker
Astonishing. I had anticipated Clapton playing humble sideman, but Eric’s presence pushed the band through the roof from the moment he took the stage. As a confessed Cream-era devotee, seeing EC play in that scenario / venue was like a dream. Trucks / Haynes were appropriately unrestrained and there was never a condescending sense of "staying out of Clapton’s way". More later.
Review by Dave Hassert
There really is nothing I can say. It was a dream come true. It was just one of those magical nights that transcends anything you can imagine seeing at a show. The interplay between Eric, Derek and Warren was truly spectacular. Never in my life could I imagine seeing "Dreams" and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" played with EC in the lineup. Just a very special evening.
Review by George D.
I was very fortunate to be at both shows. Thursday was great, but Friday was unbelievable. There are no words to describe the version of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" that we witnessed.
Review by Michael Contini
As a long time listener to both of these artists for many of my almost 50 years, this is one of the most spectacular events that I have ever seen.To see Eric light up the stage and solo on some of the Derek and the Dominoes songs such as "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad" and "Little Wing" (written by Hendrix). I feel like I was sent back to 1970 and was sitting in my room listening to the vinyl of "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs". Also, to hear him jam with Warren and Derek on some of the great Allman Brothers songs such as "Stormy Monday", "Dreams", and "Elizabeth Reed" was totally unbelievable. I was at the show with my 21 year old son and it was great. I would have to say that this was the best Beacon show I have ever seen and I have been to 11 shows there. I would like to personally thank Eric for taking the time out out of his schedule to be there. I will remember the evening for the rest of my life.
Review by Rod West
When I got to New York, I checked the moogis site* and about fell out of my chair when I saw that Ec had played with the Allman Brothers on Thursday night. Would he play again on Friday I asked myself? I have made this trip all the way from Whitefish, Montana to see the Allmans Brothers for a few years in a row now. I was bummed last year when they cancelled, but came and saw Eric at Madison Square Garden with Steve Winwood instead. Like that show, this goes in the books as a rare and special treat. I was fortunate enough to be be in the front row! The fans exploded when EC came on stage and Derek Trucks as usual laughed and cajoled with Eric between songs. I saw them play together at the Royal Albert Hall in 06 as well. Here again, the chemistry clicked and I am one of the lucky few who locked into the magic of the moment. I am going to another show on Monday and I am wondering who will pop as the Allman Brothers’ next guest!
* [Ed. note. Moogis is a live and on-demand internet service developed by Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band. It allows subscribers to view the Beacon concerts over the internet.]
Review by Bob from Bedford
Wow! I had been eagerly anticipating this night having heard the rumors months before that my annual night of attending an ABB show at the Beacon would bring Eric together with the ABB for what could only be the closest I would ever get to see Derek and the Dominos playing live. I am a big ABB fan, but to me, Eric IS God! The pre-show buzz was atwitter with anticipation of the expected 2nd set. Those lucky enough to be at the show the night before spoke of their experience like a badge of honor. I jealously and impatiently awaited my turn to have my magical experience. As much as I love the Brothers, I just could not stop thinking about the coming second set while the first set was still being performed.
As the second set started and progressed, the anticipation of EC’s arrival lent a palpable electric presence to the Beacon. When the "special guest" was announced and appeared on stage, it was a dream fulfilled. The setlist speaks for itself. The comradarie and sound of Eric, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes were even better than I had anticipated for weeks. To hear all three jamming at those special "solo moments" in "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad", "Little Wing", "Dreams", "Elizabeth Reed" etc., OMG!* They seemed to enjoy the moment as much, if not more, than the crowd. It was sheer magic and so well worth the wait.
I am glad that my 17 year old daughter was also there and could have the experience, which I know she truly appreciated, of seeing and hearing such a special musical event. It was and is a night I will always remember and cherish. As one friend next to me said after the end of "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed," "that was so good I don’t think I will ever have to go to another concert." Of course we will all attend other shows, but it will be hard to top this one. I will be seeing Eric and Steve Winwood in June and am sure it will be great as their show at MSG last year was, but Friday night’s show at the Beacon, will for me, always be remembered as "Peakin’ at the Beacon."
* [Ed. note. For those not familiar with English "text speak", OMG! translates as Oh My God!]
Review by Albert Guerra
I will remember this show for the rest of my life. I was fortunate enough to be in the Orchestra about 10 rows back on March 20th. Both sets were phenomenal. I already love Trucks and Haynes but when you bring EC into the mix, what passion, what blues power. Stellar. Magical. Outstanding evening! Best show I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to some real good ones.
"Stormy Monday" and "Elizabeth Reed" were completely Off The Hook! As were the rest, but these two were just unexpected. I saw a smile on Eric’s face many times. All I can say is there better be a DVD of this for sale someday.
Thank you Allman Brothers Band and thank you to the man who needs no introduction, Eric Clapton. You have created a magical music memory that will last my lifetime!
Review by Dave Katz
I was there Thursday and Friday nights to see EC play with the Brothers. I stopped counting how many Allman Brothers shows I have seen, many being at the Beacon, once I passed about 40. The second set Friday night was the best I have ever seen. Period.
Review by Michael Cummings
I had the good fortune to be at the Beacon Theatre in New York on March 20 for what turned out to be the best overall concert I have ever seen. And I’ve seen well over a hundred shows in my lifetime.
The excitement at the Beacon was palpable. Eric Clapton had played 6 songs the night before with the Allmans, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary with a series of shows and guests paying tribute to the late Duane Allman.
Rumors were swirling around New York Friday that Bob Dylan might show up as well for that night’s show. Some people were concerned that if he did, he would overshadow Eric’s presence or even take stage time away from Eric. Well, I’m glad to say that there was nothing to worry about, as Bob didn’t show, nor was he needed.
The Allman Brothers first set opened with a wonderful version of "Little Martha" played solo by bassist Oteil Burbridge. Then the entire band took the stage and soon the opening strains of "Mountain Jam" began filling the hall. "Mountain Jam: as the second song of the night! Derek was on fire from the get go with some stunning slide guitar. As the Allman’s moved through their set, it was apparent that Warren Haynes was having an exceptional night as well. As good as Dicky and Duane were, I can’t imagine that they could play any finer than Warren and Derek were playing. Towards the end of the first set, the Allmans kicked into a blues shuffle jam – the bass line was reminiscent of the Grateful Dead’s "Truckin’" riff. That jam eventually wound into a reprise of "Mountain Jam" to conclude the first set.
By itself, that first set was among the hottest shows I’ve ever seen. Now everyone was anxiously awaiting the second set and Eric’s appearance. Was Eric going to lay back and let the Allmans have the spotlight? Was he going to play some polite solos and humbly head backstage to let the Allmans have their night? How would Eric handle an Allman Brothers tune? Yes, they share an affinity for the blues, but the Allmans can get very jazzy. How would Eric respond to that?
The tension kicked up a notch when Clapton’s guitar tech, Lee Dickson was seen on stage preparing Eric’s equipment. Soon, the lights dimmed and I could see an acoustic guitar coming out. Was Dylan really here? Was it possible? No, it turned out the guitar was Gregg Allman’s and the band did a sublime version of "Melissa", one of Duane’s favorite songs written by Gregg, albeit this version was without Derek. Warren had put away his Les Paul and was playing his ES 335 now. Then, Derek came out and they played a superb "Leave My Blues At Home". It was certainly time now for Eric. We’d waited long enough. But the Allmans teased us some more with an extended jam on "No One Left To Run With." No sign of Eric yet. As the jam concluded, the band members were talking amongst themselves, then Warren stepped to the mic and said, "Here’s someone who needs no introduction, please welcome Eric Clapton," and the place went nuts!
Eric strolled out with a big grin on his face and strapped on a Daphne Blue Strat. Suddenly, the juggernaut that is the Allman Brothers rhythm section kicked into "Key To The Highway" at a tempo much faster than we’re used to hearing Eric play it at. We’re talking Dominos speed. Eric starts singing after an intro solo and then takes a solo break followed by Derek. Awesome. Eric’s licks recall his playing from the album, "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs." What’s next? I hear Warren play the opening chords to "Stormy Monday", a tune in both artists’ set lists over the years. This time though, its the Allman arrangement and Derek takes the first solo, followed by Gregg, then Warren. Finally, Eric steps up and does not disappoint. He appears up to the task. Derek and Warren are on fire tonight and Eric clearly doesn’t plan on taking a back seat.
Next was "Dreams", one of Gregg Allman’s first songs and a tune that Duane had played his slide guitar in standard tuning on. Eric, surprisingly, takes the first solo and it appears the Allman material will not be a problem as he rips off a terrific solo, followed by Derek with Warren, interestingly enough bringing up the rear with Duane’s slide part, rather than Derek. Warren clearly is no slouch on the slide as he tears through his solo with wild slide work. What a show so far.
Eric had played six songs the night before, so I felt there were still 3 more Eric songs to go. Suddenly, the opening riff to "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad," comes out of the speakers and the crowd erupts. The tempo is blazing and Eric comes out firing. When he breaks into the first verse the whole theatre is singing along! Eric blazes his best solo of the night holding back nothing and Warren follows it with his own hot break. Then, Derek starts the Duane part with Eric and Derek trading riffs as the song gradually starts its gentle deceleration. The song lasts about 8 minutes and immediately becomes my favorite of the night.
That proved to be short lived, however, as Eric began playing the Dominos arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s "Little Wing". Again, the crowd goes bonkers. Clapton soars as do Derek and Warren. I cannot imagine 3 better guitar players on stage at the same time as what I’m seeing and hearing. It’s incredible. The performances are jaw dropping. The rhythm section is a machine propelling everyone to fantastic heights. Eric is playing like I’ve never seen him play. He is aggressive, soaring and brutally fast. His playing is reminiscent of his Cream days, energy oozing from his guitar. He and the Allmans have done Jimi proud. And now it’s time for "Layla". I’m sure of it. I’ll guarantee it. I’ll put money on it. Here it comes. Wait! What’s that I hear?
Why it’s "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed!" With Eric Clapton!? This is a Dicky Betts instrumental that clearly showcases what the Allman’s do best – the long jazz inflected jams. Its their show stopper. What’s Eric going to do with this? It’s not really his style. I’m pretty sure he’s never played it. Will he lay back? It has these twin harmony lead guitar lines. How’s he going to fit in?
The theme is stated and the jam begins. First up is Derek, who once again has Clapton staring in disbelief at the immense sounds coming from his stellar slide work. Everyone is grinning ear to ear, the band included. How’s Eric going to follow that? He doesn’t know this tune. Gregg is up next with his bluesy hammond organ break and then … Eric rips into the solo with wild abandon, absolutely shredding it, no holds barred, incredible soloing, like nothing I’ve ever heard him play before. But its outstanding and jaw dropping stuff. The man is unstoppable. He’s taken his already incredible playing and jacked it up more than a few notches. Flames are coming out of his fingers! Now, I’m thinking, "how is poor Warren gonna follow that?" Well, Warren is a big boy and my worries were for nothing. Wisely, Warren slows everything down, let the energy from Clapton’s solo linger and dissipate. Create your own energy. And that’s what he does, slowly building the tension back up to where Warren is absolutely on fire, playing these amazing licks that have the crowd screaming on its feet. Incredible, masterful, virtuosic playing from these 3 guitarists, like nothing I’ve seen before. A true 3 headed monster! The song ends, everyone stunned from what they’ve just witnessed. The single most powerful piece of music performance I’ve ever seen or heard. I can’t say anything except a certain four letter word keeps jumping from my mouth at random intervals. My brain is searching for the power of speech. The band and Eric say goodnight and head off stage to prepare for the encore. How can they even walk after that, I wonder?
My friend turns to me and says, incredulously, "What possibly can they follow that with?" Clearly, if Dylan was waiting backstage, he’s gone home by now, as there is no way hedd want to walk on stage following that. It would be like following Jimi at Monterey after he flame broiled his guitar. Ask the Grateful Dead about that. I just turned to my friend and blurted out "Layla". Sure enough, the boys were back on stage and the opening lines of "Layla" began sailing through the room. A quick solo by Eric and then Derek – who was channeling Duane for the slide part on Jim Gordon’s contribution to the song. Danny Louis of Gov’t Mule, who had helped out in the first set on Howlin’ Wolf’s ".44 Blues" played the piano part. And then everyone thanked the crowd and headed off stage, but I doubt their feet touched the stage. I sat in my seat, for really the first time all night, and we’re talking 3 and a half hours here, absolutely spent. What had I just seen, I wondered … "Well that’s easy. The best concert … EVER."
Review by Jon Dupee
I was blessed to attend both the 3/19 and 3/20 shows at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. I waited on line for 6 hours for a ticket drop on 3/19 and was rewarded with a ticket at around 7:30. Tickets for these shows were impossible to find on the street and brokers were getting between 500 and 1000 dollars apiece. It was the hardest ticket since the Stones played the Beacon in 2007.
The first night was amazing with a set of songs from the "Layla" album and "Dreams", my favorite Allman Brothers song. It was surreal seeing Clapton up on stage with the Allman Brothers after all these years playing songs from my all-time favorite album, "Layla". This album made me both a Clapton and Allman Brothers fan from the moment I first heard it in 1977. The show left me satisfied. Talk was that the second night would consist of songs from the "Layla" album that had not been played the first night. Fortunately, this was not the case.
The second night can only be described as an all-time epic rock performance and may very well have been the best rock concert I have ever seen. I have been going to shows since 1977 and saw my first Clapton show in 1978. I saw 5 of the Cream reunion shows (2 at RAH and 3 at MSG). I saw 2 of the Winwood / Clapton shows at MSG. I saw Clapton play the Garden for his Crossroads Centre in Antigua; at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert and the Concert for NYC. Never have I seen Clapton JAM like he did at the Beacon on 3/20.
March 19th, as good a show as it was, was simply a dress rehearsal for 3/20. Clapton obviously felt more comfortable the second time around and he clearly took his playing to another level. The jamming on "Elizabeth Reed" and the entire 3/20 set should be experienced by all diehard Clapton fans. These shows, particularly 3/20, were what we all strive for when we go hear live music. They took my breath away and 3/20 left me speechless. I defy anyone to find fault with this performance.
Review by Mike Bowen / UK
The Beacon Theatre at New York’s Broadway and 75th has, for the last twenty years, been the residential concert home of The Allman Brothers Band each March. The Band’s season here is like Eric’s Albert Hall residency or Buddy Guy’s daily attendance at his Legends Club each January in Chicago. It is where ABB tests any new songs for the forthcoming summer season spent touring all parts of North America. For a road warrior, Southern Rock band celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Beacon represents the only location they are likely to play more than two nights running. It’s an enduring old familiar that has now housed 198 sold out ABB shows since 1989.
Southern Rock is an ABB-founded, American blend of Blues, Rock, Folk, Soul, Country and Jazz, originally based around northern Florida and southern Georgia with a centre in Macon, also the home of Little Richard, James Brown and Wilson Pickett. It has been much copied and emulated, but never bettered. Macon became their centre because famed session guitarist Duane Allman worked at Capricorn Records in the town, and also at Muscle Shoals Studios in Sheffield, Alabama, occasionally complementing the house band known as The Swampers. His work on Aretha Franklin and Pickett records bought him to industry notice and he was rarely short of work.
After many private jam sessions around Jacksonville, Allman started his band with his younger brother Gregg on Hammond and keys, Berry Oakley on bass, Dickey Betts on guitar, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe on twin drum kits. These players had come from two or three local bands but each musician brought something individual to the band sound which was clearly compelling to the kids, and they started a run of gradual success.
Looking back, it was our good fortune that Atlantic Records used Capricorn as a nursery label, as its house engineer, Tom Dowd was working on the second ABB album in Florida when he received a mid-session call from Robert Stigwood in London, asking him to help out on the first album by Derek and The Dominos due to be recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami. Dowd had engineered Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire, and rapidly accepted the gig when he learned that Derek was Eric’s then alter ego. When he told Duane he responded with "Oh my God, I’d love to meet him!" Three weeks later, when he told Eric he was working with the Allmans, Our Hero said, "Not Skydog Allman who played on Wilson’s Hey Jude? I’d love to meet him!" So when Dowd offered to take the Dominos to a concert by ABB that evening, the whole band turned up in the security zone in front of the stage and Duane saw who it was, he froze mid-solo and Dickey Betts had to turn away and continue the run for him! After the show, both bands famously returned to the studio and jammed together into the next afternoon with the tapes running and the result of which was Tracks 4 and 5 the Jams record in the 20th Anniversary release of The Layla Sessions. Eric and Duane bonded immediately and Allman was invited to join D&D in the studio where his contribution to the album helped to make it the success it ultimately became.
So apart from two gigs on 1st and 2nd December 1970, when Duane played with D&D in Tampa and Syracuse, the band members never played together again. Duane and Berry Oakley were dead within two years from motorbike accidents, Eric was in reclusion in Surrey, re-emerging in the mid-70s, and the rest of the original ABB struggled on, successfully to start with, but spiralling downwards in the Dark Years until packing it in by the early 80s. There were many personnel changes after the deaths right through the 90s, but none since 1999-2000 when Derek Trucks joined and Dickey Betts moved on.
In 1980, founding drummer Butch Trucks’ brother Chris had a newborn son whom he named Derek after the Dominos leader and his favourite band along with ABB, and the child was brought up in a music-loving household. Within two years of taking up the guitar at the age of nine, he had jammed with ABB and played alongside Bob Dylan. By 13, he was on the road with his own band, a tutor and his Dad. Sixteen years later the Derek Trucks Band is well established and he is one of masters of slide guitar, much sought-after (like his hero) for guest appearances on other people’s records.
He met Doyle Bramhall II when DB guested on wife Susan Tedeschi’srecent album. Doyle played it to Eric who asked DT to play on his then latest album, Road to Escondido with JJ Cale (a former member of the Delaney & Bonnie Band). Derek accepted, bonded immediately at rehearsals just like Duane before him, and Eric invited him to join the Clapton Band for the next world tour. The resultant shows, particularly in UK, was a massive outpouring of D&D material, with eight songs played out of a 19-song show.
The sight of my two guitar heroes playing to and with each other on stage on the last night of The Albert residency was my greatest live music thrill, until now, when it was overtaken by the ABB show at the Beacon Theatre on Friday 20th March, 2009.
I had arrived in NYC unaware that Eric had guested with the band the previous evening. ABB played an excellent first set, with bassist Oteil Burbridge playing a solo introductory Little Martha with screened pictures of Duane and the original ABB behind him. A spot-on 44 Blues with guest pianist, Danny Louis, from Govt Mule was only topped by Mountain Jam, Part1 of which had followed the introduction and Part 2 of which closed the first set.
The woman seated in front of me with binoculars swore that she could see Clapton at rear stage right in the guest seats during the intermission. Yeah, yeah, I’d heard it all before: if EC’s in USA he’ll be playing… Then when Lee Dickson was seen setting up EC’s kit after the third song, the buzz went out. Then Warren Haynes (also of Grateful Dead and Govt Mule) stated: "We’d like to introduce someone who needs no introduction – Eric Clapton!" A great roar and ovation went up, Eric and Derek joked together, and EC led the band into Key To The Highway. A long-time ABB standard, it had probably needed little rehearsal at that afternoon’s camera- and sound-checks. Eric’s vocal was followed by two-chorus solos by Warren and Derek. Gregg briefly took over the vocal lead and then duetted with Eric as EC fast-shuffled the band through to the outro, coordinated with Butch on lead drums.
With the 2000+ audience in this just-restored classic theatre shouting and stamping for the next song, the band slid into Stormy Monday, with Gregg leading this slow blues with a roaring vocal reminding us that "the eagle flies on Friday" and that "the Lord has mercy on me." The four-guitar front lineup to the right of Gregg comprising (l-r) Warren, Derek, Eric and Oteil was taken to sliding and soaring solos by Derek and Warren before Allman’s Hammond led Eric into one of his classic flowing interpretations using all of the Fender’s fretboard and with much bending of the strings. Totally at ease in the role of band sideman that he so loves and with his former bandmate alongside him, EC’s rising knees and tapping feet gave witness to his enjoyment during this solo which went through to the end of the number.
Warren, Derek and Eric enjoyed a joke and shared experiences before Butch led the band into the ABB staple of Dreams. All songs in the ABB catalogue have had a myriad improvisational interpretations, this song high on the list. After Gregg’s vocal, Eric gave us a totally different version, exploring with all his ability, much to Oteil’s excitement and encouragement to his left. Then the tune subsided into Warren’s melodic contemplation, much of it bottle-necking over the first pickup on his Gibson. Gregg "pulled himself together, put on a new face and got off the hilltop, Baby" as all four guitars played the signature riff leading to the three-percussion outro.
Eric, not used to long waits before un-introduced songs, was heard to ask, "Are you ready, or what?" before heading into the writer’s highlight of the set, D&D’s wonderful question, co-penned with Bobby Whitlock, "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?" A classic of rock lyricism and rhythm, it has possibly never been played better than this evening. With Warren thoroughly enjoying the Whitlock roaring co-vocal and Derek with the lyrical, melodic in-fills, Eric, with knees rising again, was having a ball with a flowing inspirational solo also much enjoyed by Derek. Then, off went Warren with a high-speed string bender. Clearly in his element, he then asked the title question with Eric before Derek took over with an amazing solo that had EC shaking his head. As the song slowly subsided into its soulful section, all three soloed together, with Warren swapping to rhythm and Oteil slowing it down steadily as the Old and Young Masters played off each other just as they had on tour three years ago and as Eric had with Duane 39 years before. A masterpiece.
Eric played around with the next song’s intro, but the underlying chords and sequence hinted that we were in for the Hendrix song from the Layla Sessions and EC’s soulful runs in Little Wing led to the co-vocal with Warren. He then played a great solo followed immediately by a fantastic interpretation by Derek before the vocal told us about "the thousand smiles she gives to me free" through to the Jimi signature riff, Eric’s sparkling solo and Butch’s linked rolling outro–ntro to the next song.
The title of In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed was taken from a headstone in Macon’s Rose Hill Cemetery, where ironically Duane and Berry were later laid to rest. With Eric and Derek taking the twin guitar harmonic lead, and Gregg, Warren and Oteil providing a shuffle rhythm, the front line was superbly aided and abetted by the brilliant back percussion line as Jaimoe, Marc Quinones and Butch supported the instrumental exploration. Derek then took over the lead for three choruses without slider and then slipped the bottle on to his ring finger for a rising emphasis which led to a solo by Gregg on Hammond. Derek then enjoyed some great licks by Eric as EC grinned and grimaced his way forward, knees rising and falling to the beat, in arguably his best solo of the set. But Warren was not to be outdone and turned in a varied solo of great feeling on his Les Paul, taking the band to a crescendo, a single-chorus break by the percussion group to the final chorus and a great roar from the audience as the band left the stage. Eric playing Lizzie Reed had indeed been a treat!
The house lights stayed down, so there was to be an encore and no prizes for guessing what it would be. Whilst only Duane Allman from ABB had played on the original recording, contributing not only the most famous seven-note lick in rock history, but some amazing playing that took studio recordings to a new level, I had always felt that only The Allman Brothers Band had the other right to play this song. And play it they can! The New York audience kept the decibels high and the band came out to another big cheer.
Eric’s tiddling around in E Flat confirmed my suspicions and the band rallied around with more tiddles and diddles as EC turned his back to the audience and led into the Layla intro. Warren’s enthusiastic backing vocals and Derek’s spot-on and melodic in-fills behind Eric’s earnest entreaties, took us to the first solos by Our Hero, during which the other three guitarists played the Duane riff. Danny Louis had rejoined the band and took over with Part 2’s piano intro before Eric allowed Derek to take a soaring solo that emulated Duane’s role on this classic song, before joining Eric and Danny quietly in the seven-note piano coda.
Gregg thanked the two guests and the audience who continued cheering and I sat down in a daze realising how lucky I had been to have chosen this day to buy a ticket to see my favourite band, only to see all my heroes get it on in one great set. I can now die happy, knowing that if it took the best part of forty years to get this gig together, it is unlikely to be repeated in my lifetime. Amen.