Photo by Chris Brush @SmokingMonkeyPhoto
On Friday night at Los Angeles’s venerable Wiltern Theatre, Devon Allman and his flagship Allman Family Revival Tour once again treated an audience to a surprise set dedicated almost exclusively to the music of the Allman Brothers Band. As they had earlier this month at the famed Beacon Theatre in New York City, Allman and his expanded ensemble–including his Devon Allman Project band and tour guests Duane Betts and Alex Orbison–performed a two-hour set devoted to classics from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame group in honor of Allman’s late father and Allman Brothers Band co-founder, Gregg Allman. The Wiltern celebration included appearances by Jimmy Hall, Tal Wilkenfeld, Maggie Rose, Donavon Frankenreiter, Larry McCray, Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, River Kittens, and Jackson Stokes.
The Wiltern stop was the penultimate date on an 18-city run that crossed the U.S.; the finale is set for The Fillmore in San Francisco. Now in its sixth annual iteration, the typical Revival Tour setlist features collaborations on the guests’ originals and Gregg Allman-centric songs. The Wiltern show, similar to its Beacon counterpart, instead opened with the latter-day Allman Brothers Band nugget, “Sailin’ ‘Cross the Devil’s Sea,” portending the special evening and confirmed by the following pair of Eat A Peach classics; the Betts-led nod to his father, Dickey, on “Blue Sky,” then Allman’s “Ain’t Wasting Time No More,” introduced with Gregg’s familiar opening notes performed by guest keyboardist John Ginty.
For “Come and Go Blues,” Allman showcased the vocal talents of the duo River Kittens, then welcomed blues master McCray on “Soulshine.” Hall’s legendary Southern voice and harmonica weaved in and out of guitar workouts by Betts and guest guitarist Johnny Stachela on the Allman Brothers Band-adopted standard, “Statesboro Blues.” Yet, it was at the show’s midpoint, with bassist Wilkenfeld appearing on an extended “Dreams,” when the ensemble stretched the furthest, with solos from Allman, Betts and Stachela pushing the epic Allman Brothers Band piece to the near 20-minute mark.
Frankenreiter offered his vocals and guitar to the driving “Southbound,” then on two acoustic-centered entries, Allman led “Melissa,” while Betts countered with “Seven Turns.” They reignited the electrics as Rose captained a searing take on “Whipping Post,” with Wilkenfeld rejoining the fold. Allman and Rose, as well, reunited for a cover of “These Days;” earlier this year, the pair released the Jackson Browne-written ballad as a single. Finally, with nearly every guest of the evening onstage–upwards of two dozen, including members of the show’s opener, Dumpstaphunk–the collected cast closed with “Midnight Rider” and a final tip of the cap to the musical legacy of Gregg Allman and The Allman Brothers Band.