The Band

Live at Watkins Glen (Capitol)

Live at Watkins Glen was recorded at a racetrack in upstate New York in 1973 to a crowd estimated at more than 600,000 — the largest assembled mass of concert-goers ever (the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead were also on the bill). Even God showed up. To wit: After a ramshackle working of the Four Tops' "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" — amid a set that included Chuck Berry's "Back to Memphis," a heart-rending version of "I Shall Be Released," and two scoops of the Band's providential boogie throb — there explodes a thunderclap as loud as anything coming from the stage. It's pouring, see — cats and dogs. A Band member says, "I keep getting shocked." "Let's knock off for 20 minutes," yells another (sounds like Robbie). The rain pours. The crowd is understandably agitated — "Do something!" someone yells. Then Garth comes out, sits behind his organ, and starts improvising. This goes on for three or four minutes, the organist bending and slapping his notes as tempestuously as the storm around him. The crowd gets into it, grooving, cheering. And just as dude can't possibly tweak out those notes anymore, he ends his thing with a tumbling, treacherous trill that spills down, down, down, and then — BOOOM! Thunder explodes again, drowning everything out, as if a half-baked Yahweh, growing impatient, was all, "Quit harshing my mellow and get on with it!" And so they do. "Is everybody wet!?" screams another Band geek, returning to the stage. Fuck yeah, everyone is. Garrett Kamps

 
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