Live: SunFest Day 3 With Gregg Allman, April 29

SunFest Day 3: Gregg Allman
West Palm Beach Waterfront

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday at SunFest wrapped up with a mellow set from the legendary Allman Brothers frontman Gregg Allman. The weather was cloudy and rather cool compared to the heat of the day, and the music matched.

Allman seemed a bit tired, and his backing band was tepid in comparison to the current touring Allman Brothers Band. It is fair to compare the two groups, though, because the band he brought to SunFest wasn't much different from the Bros, just weaker.

The band consisted of Allman on B3, two percussionists, a drummer, guitarist, bassist, sax player, and an additional keyboardist. None of the players stood out, but none took away from anything either. In all, it was just a rather boring band and boring show. This wasn't helped by the terrible sound of the venue. Though disappointing, the show did have a couple of hot spots, especially the last two songs, when the sound guy seemed to have figured something out.

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The set opened with a blues number and Allman growling away while seated at his organ. All the best parts of the show came from that scenario. A pair of slower tunes, the '80s Gregg Allman Band hit "I'm No Angel" and the old Allman Brothers song "Please Call Home," were followed by a new song and a cover of Muddy Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied." For the latter, Allman was on electric guitar, though it may have well have not been plugged in. He took up the electric elsewhere in the set too, and he never did much with it. He played an acoustic on a couple of tunes as well, including a rather half-assed run-through of "Melissa." At the organ too, Allman's presence was lacking. There were only a couple of strong, audible organ solos.

Though Gregg Allman is known for bringing guests onto the stage, the only guest Friday night was a singer from Daytona. The quality of the sound did not allow for this reporter to make out his name, but his singing could be heard all right, and he was pretty good. The other notable parts of the show were the closer, "Statesboro Blues," and the preceding blues jam. For those last couple of songs, the sound finally got right and Allman was belting beautifully as his band kicked into gear. Other than that, the show was a mix of watered-down versions of Allman Brothers favorites including "Whipping Post" and "Dreams" and a couple of various Allman tunes and covers. Though the poor sound was a contributing factor to the weakness of the show, the band itself was boring nonetheless. In the future, it would be cool to see Allman put together a band that is substantially different from the Allman Brothers, as he has in the past. Here, it just seemed like the old man with cheap accompaniment.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal bias: Gregg Allman is one of my favorite musical grandpappies.

The crowd: Included some peeps on a large balcony of an apartment building across the street. Nice spot!

Random detail: At times, Taking Back Sunday, who was playing on the other stage, could be heard almost as well as Gregg and company.

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