The Charlie Daniels Band And The Allman Betts Band At the Beacon Theatre,Wednesday, November 13th, 2019, Reviewed
Charlie Daniels looks like a Muppet, and like a Muppet he is ageless: the paunch, the ten-gallon hat, and fiddlestick, the good ol’ boyiness: they go on and on. Daniels, a mediocre country rocker who turned a hard right in his mid-90s and never looked back, is one of the MAGA poster boys. Though less astringently racist, he isn’t beyond threatening to beat up legal immigrants who cross him, and mistaking support for the armed forces with Patriotism. Last night at the Beacon Theatre, Charlie and his band of veterans, did what they do, the biggest hits (but no “Still In Saigon” though he could change it to “Still In Kabul” if he wanted to), to an adoring, aging, truckers and bikers and overweight, overbearing, bridge and tunnel mostly male deplorables.
Charlie has managed to manage a career out of doll parts that fit together in a mix of flag, Christ, and beer: too narrow minded to encompass anything but its own skill set, at 83 what you can see and hear of him is the same as always, and if you think that’s a put down, there is something to say for consistently being an asshole. His short set still afforded Daniels the opportunity to hand off to his lead guitarist and drummer for solos, and to give strong, if somewhat despicable, classic Southern rock twang to “How I Roll,” “Trudy,” and of course “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”. He is a walking, talking Red State cartoon, so far past his prime it isn’t funny.
The Allman Betts Band opened, prime contenders in the ongoing offshoots from The Allman Brothers race to oblivion. There is Govt Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band -former guitarists all, and Allman Betts, the children of ABB in a literal sense. Duane Betts, Dickey’s son, iis named for the long gone superstar brother, Duane Allman. Devon is Gregg’s son. And between them, with the addition of bassist Berry Oakley Jr. (son of original Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley), Johnny Stachela on slide guitar, John Ginty on Hammond B3 (Robert Randolph/Dixie Chicks), they mine their father’s legacy while adding nothing of their own. In effect, they are a cover band and whenever they veer off their covers they are atrocious. Their debut album is the unspeakable Down To The River, and whenever they perform a song off it they stink. The first three songs were off Down To The River and they all stank, but by the fifth, a pastoral take on “Blue Skies” which did nothing if not honor the return of the Allmans to twenty somethings (er, Devon is 47 and Duane is 34, so more conceptually), to freshen it up, and it worked fine. Devon and Duane (best friends where their father’s were anything but) make a strange echo chamber through time and when they can get it right they can perform aspects (no funk, two drummers but zero backbone, but an acoustic dreaminess) of ABB. The friends have a lot of history at the Beacon, and Devon admitted that he found it difficult to build the setlist. He shouldn’t have missed “Purple Rain,” and even so, half the show was still great.
Which is more than I can say for Charlie, who does the exact same thing he has done for decades, and I am happy to have seen him do it… just not that happy.