SHOW REVIEW: Tedeschi Trucks In New York City (10/9/2021)

Over the weekend, my partner and I visited New York City for a quick, long-awaited trip to see old friends. It was great to see them, explore Manhattan and Brooklyn, and witness how good New York is with COVID-19 restrictions, like requiring vaccination cards to enter bars and restaurants, compared with much of the United States. We were also fortunate enough to squeeze in the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s final night of a seven-show comeback run at the historic Beacon Theatre on Broadway.

Built in 1929, the Beacon holds almost 3,000 people and was originally enjoyed as a silent-film wonderland. The Beacon has hosted everyone from Queen to Leonard Cohen, and the Allman Brothers Band famously played over 200 shows there. The ornate venue was renovated in the late 2000’s – reportedly for Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones film Shine A Light.

Derek Trucks is, of course, Allman Brothers royalty and he and his bandmate/wife, talented singer-guitarist-songwriter Susan Tedeschi, are lovers of music history, so it was no surprise that the Tedeschi Trucks Band not only blew the roof off the Beacon for the grand finale of its residency but also brought out former Allman Brothers guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes for the Beatles’ “A Little Help From My Friends,” the blues staple “It Hurts Me Too,” and a rousing pair of Allman classics: “Dreams” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”

One of the great live albums in rock history, the Allman Brothers Band’s 1971 classic At Fillmore East, features a legendary performance of “Elizabeth Reed” that finds Dickey Betts and Duane Allman dueling and harmonizing on lead guitar, and Haynes and Trucks did the original Allmans justice and then some at the Beacon on Saturday night. Also, Bob Dylan is known to conclude tours at the Beacon, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band seemed to tip its cap to Dylan with a deep, dark version of “Down In the Flood” on Saturday.

As my Westword interviews in recent years with both Tedeschi and Trucks point out, the couple puts a big emphasis on doing justice to their heroes by focusing on soulful, genuine, relevant original tunes inspired by them instead of making a living doing covers. The performance we caught at the Beacon was in line with that vision, with the mesmerizing, articulate intensity of Trucks’ slide-guitar solos juxtaposing Tedeschi’s bluesy wail and tough-as-nails lyrics like, “Do I Look Worried.”

It was a bucket-list treat just to see anything at the Beacon, let alone one of the great live bands of our time. I’m from Pittsburgh, but San Francisco is where my heart lives, and all my years seeing shows at the Warfield honestly lost a little luster after experiencing the European-style glory of the Beacon, which is easily the most beautiful indoor venue I’ve been to in the states.

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