(Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 10--HYANNIS -- It's gotta be hard to play lead guitar in Gregg Allman's backup band.
Or set any instrument up against the smooth yet gravelly voice of the legendary rock-and-blues songwriter who can wail about being "tied to the whipping post" without seeming melodramatic.
On Friday, Allman -- a former heroin addict who lost his talented brother, Duane, and others in his life to tragedy -- convinced a sold-out Cape Cod Melody Tent audience that, despite the setbacks in his life, he still loves the music enough to put on a great show.
The night started with a twangy slide-filled performance by perennial Melody Tent opening act George Gritzbach of Falmouth, who set the tone with "Rollin' and Tumblin'"and the T. Bone Walker favorite "Stormy Monday."
As the last empty seats filled up, the band walked down the aisle ahead of their pony-tailed leader, who entered to cheers and, with a wave to the band, took a seat at his Hammond organ.
The band started with"Statesboro Blues,"a predictable favorite.
"Wake up Momma, turn your lamp down low," Allman sang, kicking off the guitar lick-laden tune.
Lead guitarist Scott Sharrard has been called the next Eric Clapton ("Layla," anyone?) and held his own.
The next song -- "I'm No Angel" -- was all Gregg Allman circa 1980s, but infused with the singer's more mature and reflective vocals: less big-haired gun-toting cowgirls and more a look back on a not-so-perfect life.
As the stage rotated, so did the sound from the horn section of saxophonists Jay Collins and Art Edmaiston and trumpeter Dennis Marion, as well as drummer Steve Potts, who was seated behind a plexiglass wall, presumably so he didn't knock Allman off his bench with his drumming.
The band then laid down the nostalgic Allman Brothers Band songs "Don't Keep Me Wondering" and "Please Call Home," which included memorable sax work as well as guitar changes and solos.
"Please call home if you change your mind, ohhh, I don't mind,"Allman sang, a seeming precursor to lyrics and arrangements still popular today in song's like Dawes'"That Western Skyline."
Allman, not the only pianist on stage, gave Peter Levin a chance to strut his subtle stuff at the outset of a slow, quiet rendition of "Ain't Wasting Time," which Gregg Allman wrote shortly after his brother's death at age 23 in a 1971 motorcycle accident.
The song, with lyrics like "time goes by like hurricanes, faster things,"is about life, death and moving on, which is what Allman has done, even in the wake of the February death of a crew member and the injury of seven others during the filming of the now-suspended film about Allman's life.
The band followed with a businesslike version of "Just Before the Bullets Fly"(standout sax playing by Collins),"I Found Love," which Allman said went back "almost to the doo-wop era" with its plaintive drawn "Yeah, yeah,"and (following an introduction of the band)"Black Hearted Woman/Hot Lanta" medley, with a nice cowbell and conga drum work by percussionist Marc Quiñones.
And, just as the crowd was getting antsy for it ("It's my birthday, come on man!"shouted a woman in the audience) came the song that named a thousand daughters:"Melissa."
The horns left the stage for this one, and Sharrard started off with an acoustic guitar but ended solidly back on electric for the song's signature high notes. The crowd, meanwhile, couldn't help but join in.
The band then slipped in a new tune -- "Love Like Kerosene" -- which woke up the crowd with its rockabilly feel and prepared them for the white-hot "Whipping Post" closer.
"Oh Lord, I feel like I'm dying," Allman and the crowd sang into the night before the band walked off stage about two hours after the show's start.
Of course, they weren't done, and came out after the obligatory applause to rattle off a medley of solo shots, including some by Potts and bassist Ron Johnson.
The band ended for real this time with "One Way Out," sending the crowd into the night, happy and itching for more.
Before leaving the stage, Johnson handed his set list to 12-year-old Graham Lane of West Barnstable, who was sitting in the front row with his parents, Mark and Sue.
"This is the first time he's seen them," Mark Lane said, adding that he had been to four shows going back to 1985.
Sue Graham had him beat, however: "I saw them in the '70s,"she said.
And it looked like the Allman family won over another member of the Lane family on Friday night.
"I thought it was great," Graham Lane said.
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