I escorted my parents to see Greg Allman at the Kitchener Blues Festival on Thursday. I have almost no recollection of Allman from my youth (other than wondering why there was an enormous spherical blob of jello on the back of his fruit truck) but I'm always intrigued by ace musicianship. Also I figured I could keep my folks from whooping it up too much, which in fact wouldn't happen, so I was making a joke there.
My immediate perception: blues is a little boring in a large venue, especially when performed in a manner that our town paper called "workmanlike." It seemed like every single song followed the same exact formula: a vocal introduction, followed by a piano solo, then either a sax or a guitar solo, and then a refrain of the vocal for the big finish. The musicians were amazing, as expected, but if there is such a thing as "too many piano solos" then I witnessed it several times over.
There was little variation. There was precious little soul. Even Allman's Hammond B3 sounded "workmanlike," having been played with much more verve and style by opening band "Aphrodite's Bodice."
I'm not sure if anybody else felt this way. There was certainly a lot of whooping and cheering going on, though mostly by Kitchener's life-long all-day porch-party brigade. We sat behind the cutest middle-aged German couple you've ever seen: both of them portly and homely, and when Allman sang "Melissa," the woman put her head on her husband's hamhock shoulder and gently held his hand. So that was sweet.
Maybe it's just a "blues thing." I felt that the spectacle would have been much better in a more intimate venue. It was a rush to see such talented guys put on a show, even if I still don't understand why there was a blob of jello on that album cover way-back-when.