There are many bands that continue to tour despite the untimely death of their key members. Some such bands, including the new line-up of “Chicago” don’t seem to bother me much. However, the latest versions of the Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead really burn my ass- perhaps it is a result of the veracity with which they are followed, and because of how much I loved their original incarnations.
“The Dead” (new), and New Allmans (as I will refer to them from here on) do a sufficient job impersonating, and are somehow able to swindle their fans into believing they are more then cover bands. Through choreographed musical peaks, The Dead and the New Allmans recreate idyllic rock moments originally heard in polluted West Coast Rock clubs during the Nixon administration.
One can’t fault the musicians. While aging, they have avoided Mah Jong day at the JCC and have instead been sanctified with the ability to continue rocking. Rocking before thousands of screaming fans, rocking with lifelong friends? The delusion is not on the stage, it is in the crowd.
Sure, it is something to see rock legends perform live, but I am blown away knowing people follow these bands on tour. “What do you think they will play tonight?” I’ll tell you what they are going to play tonight: some combination of classic tunes from their catalogue, which, at their best will be lackluster imitations of previous experimentations, and at their worst will be a 30 minute disjointed and nonsensical drum solo.
Critics of this stance will be quick to point out the collected rock history on stage. However, the “New” bands don’t cease to be nostalgia driven cover bands just because they have remarkable musicians. Derek Trucks, of the New Allmans, is an extraordinary guitarist, whom I happen to respect deeply. Lets be real though – aside from “Soulshine” seeking ‘Mule’ junkies, who is waking up early on a Saturday to secure New Years tickets to see the Derek Trucks Band?
Fans of the new “Dead” are quick to point out that the band is composed almost entirely of original members of the GD. To which the reply is simple: no Jerry Garcia, no Dead. To have The Dead without Jerry is like having a campout when you ain’t got no smores. Without Jerry Garcia there never would have been a Grateful Dead. A band fronted by Phil Lesh and Bob Weir would have been lucky to gain the success level of “The Holy Modal Rounders”. Who is HMR? Exactly.
Even the staunchest “New Dead Head” would have to admit that replacing Garcia with Haynes seems a bit like marital infidelity. Warren Haynes is a prototype; a carbon copy of rock guitarists who came before; a duplicate, who does no more then impersonate, lending nearly no creativity or style.
No Bono, no U2. No Morrissey, no Smiths. The equation works just as well with Garcia.
I have seen both the new Dead and new Allmans live, and there is no doubt both shows are a great time. A great time in the sense that it is fun to get drunk, then drunk and high, and listen to rock and roll.
Lets call a spade a spade, and shit… The New Allmans and New Dead are the world’s most talented and overrated cover bands.
Peace and Love, Peace and Love- East Coast Gross
East Coast Gross can be reached at ECG@GDPmagazine.com