Beacon Theatre, New York City

The Beacon Theatre is located on Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was designed by architect Walter Ahlschlager.  Promoter Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel (of the famous Roxy Theatre) originally planned that the Beacon would become a music venue, but when the backing fell through, it ultimately began its life as a movie theater, opening on December 24, 1929.  It continued to operate as a movie theater until 1974, when it began staging rock concerts.  The Allman Brothers Band concerts are probably the best known performances held by a rock band at the theater.  They have “held court” there with a run of shows every March since 1989, except 2010, when they were out-booked by Cirque de Soleil.  The Grateful Dead played there only twice, a two night run on June 14 and 15, 1976.  The theater itself is worth the price of admission.  It is a “beacon” of restored beauty, from the ticket booth to the stage.  Murals fill the rotunda lobby and the performance space, marble and brass line the staircases.  One can see why it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  The marquee of the Beacon is depicted here in the first photo, I was on my way in to see Hot Tuna that night as you can see.  This is the latest fancy incarnation of the marquee, it was your standard paste-up black letters on a white background when the Grateful Dead performed.  The second photo shows the interior performance space.  This ornamental work sits directly above the stage and extends to the ceiling.  It appears that chandelier above is holding up a Middle Eastern inspired tent, complimenting the large almost floor-to-ceiling Egyptian murals flanking the stage.  One feels that it was made to hear “Blues for Allah” in this space.   The audience did hear a fitting “Samson and Delilah” each evening of the two night run in ’76 to no surprise, being that the Dead were on their ’76-’77 mostly second set “Samson and Delilah” kick.  Check out this old theater at least once in your concert-going career, the beauty and superb acoustics make every show here memorable. 


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