By: Andrew Bruss
Gov't Mule :: 10.31.08 :: Orpheum Theatre :: Boston, MA
Gov't Mule plowed their way through a powerhouse Halloween show at Boston's Orpheum Theatre that served up familiar Mule tunes, and a set of impressive Pink Floyd covers.
Following an opening set by Back Door Slam that deserves to be mentioned, Mule inaugurated the Hollows' Eve celebration with "Brighter Days." As Warren Haynes, the band's driving force, dove into some six-string fretwork, Mule's new bassist, Jorgen Carlsson, used his second public performance with the band to demonstrate intense musical prowess and woo Mule fans with a rockin' stage presence that outdoes his predecessor, Andy Hess.
After jamming their way through tunes like "Brand New Angel" and "Trane," the Mule tore into an instrumental version of the Grateful Dead's "St. Stephen" that took the already ecstatic atmosphere of the crowd to new heights. Haynes is a product of his influences, and years of touring with The Allman Brothers Band has helped him refine those tight slide licks that make his dueling leads with Derek Trucks amongst the best on the circuit. And having spent recent years filling the shoes of Jerry Garcia with the surviving members of The Dead, Haynes has had some serious experience jamming in those outer-worldly areas of the auditory spectrum. But, even with hints of Jerry, Duane and Jimi in his leads, at all times, Haynes' tone is unmistakably that of Warren Haynes.
Halloween has always been a flagship holiday in the jam band community, second only to New Year's Eve. And with a band like Gov't Mule, expecting something special is more than fair. Phish are attributed with getting the Halloween spirit going in the jam world with a performance of The Beatles' The White Album in its entirety on 10.31.94. Years later, we've seen costumes and covers of all colors and genres. But, on Halloween 2008, Mule outdid themselves with a second set packed full of Pink Floyd tunes from throughout the psychedelic pioneers' career.
From the opening notes of the reverb-heavy "One Of These Days," everyone in attendance collectively flipped their shit over what they knew would become a concert that would be discussed for years to come. As the set moved past "Fearless," and "Pigs On The Wing" equipped with an inflated pig to the right of the stage, Mule moved into "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." With sheet music in front of band members, it was clear that a great deal of effort went into pulling off their Floyd "costume." Not only did they nail the composition, but Haynes even managed to replicate the near-perfect guitar tone of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.
In addition to dozens of lasers piercing through a smogged theatre, the effects of a run through the first five tunes off Dark Side Of The Moon was enough to make any attendee melt in their seat. However, the highlight of the set was a funky rendition of "Have A Cigar," featuring drummer Matt Abts on vocals. One of Haynes' strong suits is his ability to mesh Black Sabbath-heavy guitar riffs with a sense of Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock funk, and "Cigar" just so happened to be the Floyd tune that brought that out the most in him.
The second set wrapped with "Wish You Were Here," and an encore of Mule tunes. "A Million Miles From Yesterday" and "Blind Man In The Dark" brought the shenanigans of Gov't Mule's Halloween to a close. Calling their show a success would be an understatement. Given the high hopes of attendees before they got to the Orpheum, most bands would have had a rough time meeting people's expectations, but for the man who regularly fills the shoes of Duane Allman and Jerry Garcia, sending people home feeling satisfied required nothing more than practice, sheet music and some extra-trippy lighting. With Halloween '08 behind us, talk of Mule's follow-up for '09 can be expected right around the corner.
10.31.08 :: The Orpheum Theatre :: Boston, MA
Set 1: Brighter Days, Bad Little Doggie, Brand New Angel, Gameface, Trane >
Third Stone From The Sun Jam > Eternity's Breath Jam > St. Stephen's Jam > Monkey Hill, Child Of The Earth, Kinder Bird Jam* > Kind Of Bird
Set 2: One Of These Days* > Fearless* > Pigs On The Wing Part 2* > Shine On You Crazy Diamond*$& > Have A Cigar*& > Speak To Me* > Breathe*$ > On The Run* > Time* > Great Gig In The Sky*$ > Money*$& > Comfortably Numb*$ > Shine On You Crazy Diamond Reprise*$& > Wish You Were Here
Encore: A Million Miles From Yesterday$, Blind Man In The Dark&
*1st Time Played
$ with Machan Taylor, Sophia Ramos & Durga McBroom Hudson
& with Ron Holloway
You can purchase this show at muletracks.com.
Gov't Mule is on tour now. Dates available here.
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