DEVON ALLMAN – LA BELLE ANGELE, EDINBURGH – 6 MAY, 2017
There is a decent-sized crowd inside La Belle Angele as Devon Allman, wearing an Otis Redding t-shirt, walks on stage to loud applause. He is in a jovial, playful mood. Promoted by Edinburgh Blues Club, this is a real coup for Capital blues enthusiasts.
Allman has enjoyed a fruitful and varied career. He founded two acclaimed groups, Honeytribe and Royal Southern Brotherhood, before striking out on his own to focus on solo work. He has released three albums: 2103’s Turquoise, 2014’s Ragged & Dirty and in 2016, Ride or Die.
Live pic below by Marc Marnie.
Devon has a famous dad (Allman Brothers Band frontman Gregg Allman). Not that it has opened industry doors for him, all that he has achieved has been on his own merits, carving out a career built on his prowess as a writer and singer.
Tonight’s set is drawn from his solo output interspersed with songs from Honeytribe and the Royal Southern Brotherhood. He doffs his cap to all his influences – blues, soul, reggae, funk, all the genres that have shaped his career.
A rampaging version of Tom Petty’s Last Dance with Mary Jane works the crowd into a lather before a nod to the reggae master Bob Marley with No Woman No Cry. On this he orchestrates the crowd, urging them to join in the chorus, which they do with gusto.
He is backed by a talented group of musicians: Justin Corgan(bass), Anthony Steinhauer(drums) and Jackson Stokes (guitar). On several occasions he turns to Steinhauer urging him to play harder, louder. Devon is a taskmaster, but in a good way.
On Galaxies and the soulful Find Ourselves his guitar work is exceptional, linking wonderfully with Stokes. Devon has an incredible stage presence, a real showman. He roams the stage, face contorted as he bends the strings. The sound is big, the riffs humongous. His guitar playing is inventive and explosive while his vocals hit the spot every time.
Live pic below by Iain V Monk
Mahalo is a live favourite from his Honeytribe days, a ferocious jam that builds to an earth-shattering crescendo. The thundering drums from Steinhauer almost make the venue shudder. The band is really getting off on this Edinburgh audience, Devon taking time to describe the crowd as a “rowdy bunch”.
He closes with Midnight Lake Michigan from Ragged and Glory. It is during this song that he steps from the stage and goes walkabout among the crowd, falling to his knees, surrounded by fans, he is ringing every last note out of his Gibson.
He returns for an encore and teases the crowd with very short snippets of Sweet Home Alabama, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Whole Lotta Love and Jessica, before launching into Stairway To Heaven. It is “the shortest version of this motherfucker.”, he assures the crowd. Finally he rips through Say Your Prayers before exiting and ending what has been a brilliant performance.
Live pic by Iain V Monk
He invites fans to “hang” after the show for a meet and greet. He is humble and gracious as fans queue to praise his performance. He worked his socks off tonight, as did his accomplished band. Haste Ye Back, Devon.
Ride or Die is available from Amazon.