When you think of venues The Allman Brothers Band played at during the Duane era there are two that spring instantly to mind. The first, Fillmore East in New York City. The At Fillmore East live album is proof of the fantastic music the band played there and many more bootlegs from other shows at the venue back that up as well. But the second venue was The Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana. The shows The Allman Brothers Band played at The Warehouse are considered by many, including band members, as some of the best shows they ever played. Between March 13th 1970 and Duane’s death on the 29th October 1971, the Allman Brothers played at the Warehouse a total of ten times with a further four shows played after his passing.
The band open this particular show with Statesboro Blues which was the standard set opener at this point in time, and it’s a wonderful version. Before the band kick off you can hear people around where the mic is located shouting for people to sit down, people who are presumably blocking their view of the stage. As the intro of Statesboro Blues kicks off it really sets the tone for the rest of the show although Gregg’s vocals fail to come in where they’re supposed to which could have been down to a problem with the mic. He comes in 12 bars later though as if nothing has happened before Duane takes the first solo of the night, sounding magnificent as always. Dickey of course takes the second solo and sounds just as good. Trouble No More is the second song but only after Duane’s brief hello to the crowd, wishing everyone a “Happy New Year.” It’s a great rendition of the song which is quickly followed by Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ and these three songs in succession became standard for the Allman Brothers at shows in 1971, as can be heard on At Fillmore East and the expanded The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings released in 2014. Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ is one of the most exciting songs the band played during this period, a song originally recorded earlier in 1970 for their second studio album Idlewild South, and that’s no different here. Duane’s slide parts in particular are absolutely gorgeous and his scorching solo to end the song is certainly one of his finest.
- Statesboro Blues
- Trouble No More
- Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’
- Leave My Blues At Home
- Hoochie Coochie Man
- Stormy Monday
- You Don’t Love Me
- In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
- Oh, Pretty Woman
- Whipping Post
- Mountain Jam
Dreams comes next which is the first extended jam of the evening and what a version it is. Gregg is on fine form on vocals and both Duane and Dickey add some tasty guitar parts throughout. Duane then takes over vocal duties for the John Lee Hooker song Dimples which was a regularly performed song in 1970 even though it wouldn’t be the following year. Duane isn’t really considered a natural singer but his rough vocals really fit the part here and compliment the down and dirty nature of the song perfectly. The combination of guitars and bass playing the same riff during the verse sections supply the song with plenty of meat with the two guitars then playing harmonics during the rest of the song. Exquisite to say the least. Leave My Blues At Home, another track from Idlewild South, comes next. The live version of this song is longer than the studio equivalent and features an extended solo section to end the song. For me personally it’s one of their finest studio recordings and it’s great to hear live, although just like Dimples it wouldn’t be played as much in 1971, and nor would Hoochie Coochie Man which follows. There have been many versions of this song over the years by countless bands and artists but this is probably one of the most explosive due to the fierce opening which builds and builds. The crowd join in as the song gets going and then Berry Oakley takes the lead, sounding just as rough and dirty as Duane did on Dimples. Rough and dirty is of course a good thing, Gregg’s voice, while having more natural ability, contains just as much grit but in a different way. It’s a fantastic version of a great song.
The T-Bone Walker song Stormy Monday follows Hoochie Coochie Man which is an excellent choice, and the crowd agree. During the opening minute you can hear people around the mic making comments of great satisfaction, evidently thoroughly enjoying the moment. It’s times like these that you’re glad these shows were recorded to begin with. In many ways the version recorded for the At Fillmore East live album is the definitive version but this performance is just as good, if not better. During Duane’s solo the band begin to ramp things up to great effect. Even though it’s slower than Hoochie Coochie Man and different in styles, it contains just as much energy. Gregg’s Hammond B3 organ solo is a fantastic moment with the solid foundation of Butch and Jaimoe behind the band, keeping them rolling on. You Don’t Love Me is one of the most exciting songs the Allman Brothers played live due to it’s length and the band don’t disappoint here, with it clocking in at just over 16 minutes in length. The jam section in the middle of this song is always something to marvel at and the band perform a great version of Auld Lang Syne to officially bring in the New Year. It’s followed by In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, the Dickey Betts masterpiece. Every live version of this is spectacular and at 18 minutes it’s a fine rendition.
Oh, Pretty Woman and Revival come next and act as two filler tracks before the final 45 minutes of jamming begins. The former is a great little blues number previously recorded by Albert King, among others, and the latter is a song the band wrote and recorded for their Idlewild South album earlier in the year. Whipping Post is the first of the final two jam tracks with Berry Oakley’s explosive bass part causing the walls of the Warehouse to tremble. The rest of the band come in and the rest is history as it were, as we get 22 and a half minutes of musical excellence. The first minute and a half contains more than most songs do in their entirety and the fun hasn’t even begun yet, because things really take off when the guitars come in and improvisation takes over. The timpani playing signals what comes next, and that’s Mountain Jam which is the final song of the evening. Calling it a song is an understatement to say the least because it’s so much more than that. Built around a Donovan riff, the Allman Brothers Band took music to new heights every time they played this live and that’s exactly what happens here. Music just isn’t this good anymore as you listen to Duane and Dickey play off each other, pushing one another to achieve things that musicians these days can only dream of. And the guitarists aren’t the only musicians that deserve credit for that, the entire band up their game every time they played Mountain Jam and that’s exactly what they do here. Both sets of drums are probing every section of the song with the guitars, bass and Hammond organ creating a gorgeous musical portrait witnessed only by the people in the crowd who I imagine, halfway through the song, are sat with the jaws on the floor.
Overall it’s a fantastic show and the recording itself is one of the best shows available to listen to in bootleg form. In fact it’s confusing as to why an official Warehouse live album hasn’t been released so far, especially since Butch Trucks recently said in an interview that they have the tapes needed for one. But this show at The Warehouse signalled the end of a fantastic year not only for the band in general but for Duane. Less than half a year earlier he had been invited to take part in the Layla sessions with Derek and the Dominos at Criteria Studios in Miami and as a result Duane’s star status would be changed forever, even though the album itself wouldn’t gain significant attention until after his death. 1971 would be a breakthrough year for the Allman Brothers which saw them release their incredible live album At Fillmore East that would give them the attention they had been working so hard to gain. But bootlegs from the Duane era are just as important as official live albums, and this show very much sums up what kind of band the Allman Brothers Band were – one of the finest live bands of all time.