When Jaimoe, a founding member and drummer of the Allman Brothers made a call to members of the group alumni suggesting they reconvene for a concert celebrating 50 years of the brotherhood, he was met with the kind of positive responses he had hoped for.

Rather than block booking a multi-date run at The Beacon Theatre, the group’s long-time New York performance home, Madison Square Gardens became the preferred choice for a one-night only gala.

With the exception of founding member Dickey Betts, who is long estranged from the band, Jaimoe is the last man standing from the original line-up. That said, guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes was with the band for two stints between the time the band reunited in 1990 to when they called it a day seven years ago, making him the pivotal piece of this reunion.

That percussionist Marc Quinones, guitarist Derek Trucks, bassist Oteil Burbridge collectively have around 50 years of membership in the Allman Brothers meant that this one-off would be built on a formidable foundation. The line-up was solidified with the additions of organist Reese Wynans, Widespread Panic drummer Duane Trucks, and second-generation Allman, pianist Chuck Leavall, whose significant contributions to the seventies Allman albums, Brothers and Sisters and Wipe The Windows, cannot be understated.

Mere hours before the COVID clampdown hit this continent a packed house in New York witnessed a 25 tune, two set concert that put an exclamation point on the importance of the best of the Allman Brothers canon of work.

Working within a skill set that includes incredible chops and improvisational brilliance, the octet whipped up 3 plus hours of musical magic that hit bullseyes throughout. True to form, all the essential elements in an Allman Brothers show were in full flight immediately. Locked in from the outset on tunes like It’s Not My Cross To Bear, Festival, Hot ‘Lanta, Soulshine, Dreams and Jessica it was the second set that took this crew to jaw-dropping heights.

The twin guitar interplay between Haynes and Trucks is extraordinary for its precision and improvisational elasticity, and the array of colour that Quinones and Wynans inject into the material brought a freshness to gems like One Way Out and Ain’t Wasting Time No More.

However, the biggest triumph here is that Haynes was able to take on the lead vocal role and vanquish any thoughts that this show could not be pulled off without the voice of the late Gregg Allman. Haynes more than finds the vocal sweet spot between emotions dispensed in various shades of blue, phrasing, interpretation and heartfelt soul and it all hits a double-barrelled crescendo on the encores of Midnight Rider and Whipping Post.

It was smiles all around with these musicians as they took their bows at the end of this important event and it will be the same for any fan of the seminal group and sound. The Brothers is also available on DVD. (Peter North),