Gregg Allman - lead vocals, organ, electric piano; Dickey Betts - lead guitar, slide guitar; Lamar Williams - bass; Chuck Leavell - piano; Butch Trucks - drums, percussion; Jai Johanson - drums
Few bands could have recovered from such tragic personnel losses as did The Allman Brothers Band in 1973. After the death of Duane Allman in 1971 and Berry Oakley the following year, few would have thought The Allman Brothers Band could carry on. One key to the group's remarkably successful recuperation was their recognition of the futility of trying to replace such distinctive musicians. Rather than go through the anguish of trying, the group brought in fresh blood in the form of pianist Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams. With the release of Brothers and Sisters, they ventured in a more countrified direction that won many new fans while retaining a good portion of the old. Then, in a remarkable twist of fate, the band suddenly had a hit single racing up the charts with "Ramblin' Man." Unexpectedly, the Allman Brothers had become the most popular live act in America.
On this tour, the band was primarily playing huge sporting arenas and outdoor festivals, such as Watkins Glen that summer. But since The Grateful Dead was on hiatus, they agreed, as another favor to Bill Graham, to take over for his annual New Year's Eve celebration.
Following Bill Graham's classic introduction, the band kicks off with "Wasted Words," followed by several of their best known earlier songs. Betts' guitar playing had become far more expressive by this point and, much to the surprise and delight of loyal fans, had come to absorb a lot of Allman's electric bottleneck slide technique. Unfortunately, a reel change caused the end of "Midnight Rider" and most of "Blue Sky" to be cut. The true magic, however, begins with the nearly 18-minute set closing, "Elizabeth Reed." where the band begins seriously improvising. The improvisations on this tune, showcasing incredible interplay between Leavell and Betts, proves just how inventive and distinctive Betts had become. Following this incredible jam, the band takes a break as all prepare for midnight.