Four days after the release of the Allman Betts Band’s debut album, Down To The River, the group hit the stage at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, which is the world’s largest music festival. Last year, Allman and Betts performed at 3 in the afternoon as the Devon Allman Project. One year later, they were headlining the festival.
The band started things off with “All Night” and “Shinin,” the two singles they’ve been promoting from the new album, Down To The River. While Devon and Duane are the ones who names are listed on the marquee, guitarist Johnny Stachela was given several moments to shine, including during a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Devon also really got into that one working the crowd from both ends of the stage, a definite highlight of the night.
The Allman Brothers Band’s “Blue Sky” was another highlight. Devon and Duane have been performing “Blue Sky” together for over a year now, including at last year’s Summerfest, but this year there was just a palpable energy in the air and the reaction from the fans was special. It was easy to tell the song meant a lot to the fans and the crowd really lit up for Duane as it’s one of the high points of the set for him.
The set concluded with two originals, “Long Gone,” which is the first track Devon and Duane wrote together and the title track “Down To The River.” Devon got the crowd to start repeating the chorus of “Down To The River,” a smart play with the album just being released.
During the set, Devon made his love of Milwaukee and Spotted Cow (a beer made and only sold in Wisconsin) abundantly clear. The band picked up five cases of Spotted Cow upon entering Milwaukee (which now reside on the Allman Betts Band’s tour bus) and during the set Devon called it “the best beer in America.” Following the set the band celebrated by cracking open a case of it.
It was a beautiful night in Milwaukee after it rained earlier in the day. There was a chance of thunderstorms, but luckily that cleared out before the set. The crowd was very appreciative of the show and one thing that also stood out was the band’s chemistry. You could see the smiles on their faces. Before the set began, the band huddled near its tour bus similar to a football team before a big game. This might just be the start of the Allman Betts Band, but it appears to be here for the long haul.
Review by Pete Francis