It takes an aircraft-carrier of a release such as Live at the Beacon Theatre to remind us just how unique the Allman Brothers Band always was and still is. Traditionally a byword for down-home R&B/country blues-rock, the reality is that the band's gigantic sound is almost a musical form in itself. Make no mistake, the Allmans are still making big music, now with a two-guitar front line as well as their trademark two-drummer rhythm section (augmented these days with an additional percussionist), plus Gregg Allman's Hammond cutting through all of this like a serrated knife.
Compared to the gargantuan Live/1975-85, 2001's Live in New York City seems like the very definition of restraint, but consider this – not only does it span two discs, it leaves out a considerable portion of the set list from the show and thereby the set list of Springsteen's celebrated 2000 reunion with the E Street Band. Some critics complained that this record was little more than a tie-in to the HBO special of the same name, but even if that's true, the record would have merit since it illustrates exactly why this group should never have parted ways. In a sense, even if this is the third live album in Springsteen's catalog, it's the first that attempts to replicate the feeling of an evening out with the E Street Band (the Live/1975-85 box tried too hard to be an ultimate experience; MTV Plugged captured a transitional phase).