ABB at the Beacon Theater (2012). allmanbrothersband.com
The road came to an end last night. Who knew it would be at 74th and Broadway in upper Manhattan?
That’s the location of the Beacon Theater and last night the Allman Brothers Band played its last concert in the hall where it has made an annual appearance every year since 1989.
The band announced that this year would be it’s last this past January before its month long spring run in NYC. Everyone expected that the end of the summer festival season would also be the end of the line for these members of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
But Greg Allman battled a bout of bronchitis in March and the band had to reschedule four nights lost to bad health. In some strange way Allman’s illness can be seen as an act of fate, bringing the band back to the closest thing its had to call home since it left Jacksonville, Fla. in 1969. In addition to the four makeup nights, there were two more shows added to the last appearances. The final act was scheduled for October 28.
The Beacon Theater has become a special place for both the band and its legion of fans.
Since the mid-1970s, the band has had a number of personnel changes and suffered some serious loss, beginning with the 1971 death of Duane Allman, Greg’s brother and the guy who conceived of a strange rock/blues fusion with dueling lead guitars, two drummers, and a bad ass organ player with a raspy voice who also happened to be his brother.
I’ve had the pleasure of taking in a handful of Beacon shows and it’s always a special night filled with guest appearances from the greatest rock, blues, and jazz players in the business.
According to the New York Times, the final run was different. No guests. Just the band, playing until they had to put the night - and 45 years of rock lore - to bed.
Last night - actually around 1:30am - the band wrapped up Whipping Post for one last time. It’s remaining founding members - Greg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe - stepped to the mic to say goodbye and thank you to the capacity crowd before sitting down to the encore. In many ways, the band landed back where it all began.
Of all the Beacon experiences I’ve had and the dozens of times I’ve seen them in other venues, the Allman Brothers Band has never played past midnight. On Tuesday they did. The final notes echoed through the broadway palace like a celebration of music and life around 1:45am on October 29 - the 43rd anniversary of Duane Allman’s passing - with Trouble No More, the first song the Allman Brothers ever played all those years ago during an auspicious meeting in Jacksonville.
Jim Wertz will spend the next few days listening to the final ABB show on Sirius radio. When he's done you can reach him at jWertz@ErieReader.com or on Twitter @jim_wertz.