Devon Allman – Park Street Saloon – Columbus, OH – 9/25/15 (review)
A concert full of feeling is good for the soul
I had forgotten what is was like to experience a great rock n’ roll show; it had been so long. No electronic Tom Foolery, no Auto Tune, no JumboTron – just a no-frills, kick-ass concert. Devon Allman delivered, and then some.
Yes Devon is the son the famous Allman that used to front the Allman Brothers Band. And, while he’ll never be mistaken for the virtuosos that have occupied the lead guitar slot in that legendary group – he more than makes up for it in pure feeling. I’ve never seen a guitarist that played with that much emotion, yet completely ignored the flashiness; every note he played seemed to come directly from his soul. And, man what great tone he got from his guitar!
Allman came out in black shirt, jeans, and a very cool hat, with his Gibson Les Paul strung over his shoulders. He was augmented by bass, drums, keyboards, along with young sensation Bobby Schneck, Jr on lead and rhythm guitar. This kid barely looked old enough to drive, yet – when given the opportunity would dazzle with his supple playing.
The first set opened with the searing “Half the Truth,” off his very fine recent record, Ragged & Dirty, before moving to the Allman-esque “Can’t Lose Them All.” He did several covers, including a fantastic take on Eric Clapton’s “Forever Man,” a crowd sing-a-long with Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” and a soulful but gritty run through of the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around.”
The band took a brief break and came back out sitting on stools – he introduced the Brothers’ “Melissa” by saying “a friend of mine wrote this back in 1969.” The real show-stopper was the extended instrumental “Midnight Lake Michigan.” The album version of this slow-burner blues runs about nine minutes, but live it was extended even further – yet it surprisingly never got boring. Credit it to Allman, who ripped off passionate solo after solo, before disappearing to let his band shine. He reappeared several minutes later in the crowd, shaking hands in-between solos.
The encore was a ferocious take on “One Way Out” – while his band laid down the familiar blues groove, Allman sang and played his ass off, even bringing opener Erica Blinn back to the stage to blow some mean harmonica.
Speaking of Blinn – she and her band, the Handsome Machine were from Columbus and opened the show with a 40-minute set that meshed Black Crowes’ grit, and sprinkled in a little Lone Justice country attitude. Talking after the show, Blinn mentioned to me that she and the band were moving to Nashville soon. I’d say, watch out – the band is incredibly tight and Blinn makes a great front woman, especially with her prowess on the harmonica.
Allman actually at one point thanked the crowd for supporting live music, saying “we’re trying to keep this alive.” I’d say they’re doing a hell of a good job. A Devon Allman show in your area is a can’t miss. —Tony Peters