Gig review: Devon Allman Project with Duane Betts at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Duane Betts and Devon Allman
Duane Betts and Devon Allman
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A night of contrasts at the Brudenell, as (the rather marvellous) Scottish cartoon punks the Rezillos take one room and the Devon Allman Project, aided and abetted Duane Betts and his band, display their wares on the other stage.

Son of the legendary Gregg Allman, Devon has ploughed his own furrow as a player of blues and rock, first with Honeytribe, then the Royal Southern Brotherhood as well as doing his own thing.

His alliance with Betts is an obvious Allman link, with Duane being the son of Dickey Betts, also of the Allman Brother Band and named after Devon’s uncle (keep up).

OK - so what of the show? Well Betts kicks off with forty minutes of tuneful southern rock, tinged with country and blues, showcasing some great slide work from Johnny Stachela, and looking the spitting image of his old man. None of your histrionic over the top shredding here - just good solid, heartfelt playing and singing. Add in a nice little acoustic rendition of a paean to Georgia, going by the name of Juliette, and this was a great starter for the evening.

Allman’s band took the stage to a roar of approval from an audience somewhat older than him. Very much his own man, he plays a mix of music which reflects his own musical history and the Allman legacy. So we started with Mahalo from the Honeytribe era - echoes of Carlos Santana in there - and then ambled via a delightful version of Left My Heart In Memphis to Blue Sky and Elizabeth Reed, with Devon leaving the stage to allow guitar duelling proving Stachela and Jackson Stokes (yup - another six string troubadour on display) were in top gear.

It was time for a sit down, and the band made themselves comfortable as they launched into a portion of the set featuring a song written by Allman senior for Devon’s mother, and rebuffed a heckler calling for Freebird. The show culminated with a half hour encore featuring all the night’s musicians playing Allman Brothers tunes and other classics, including a great cover of What’s Going On. This chance to show a soulful side to the band was a prelude to a version of Purple Rain allowing the combined talents to show their ability to make the most of a classic composition.

It will be interesting to see how Devon and Duane – as well as their cohort – build on their skilled performances. They clearly know and love their craft, and hopefully they’ll be back in the UK to show us their talents again soon.