Photos by Tony Stack | Click on photo for a larger image

Warren HaynesA late arriving crowd greeted the veteran rockers of Gov't Mule on the night of Saturday, October 19th at the Fillmore auditorium in Denver. Taking the stage just before 8:30, Warren Haynes performed acoustic versions of "The Real Thing," "One," and "Patchwork Quilt" under a lone white spotlight to start things off.

This provided latecomers with an opportunity to filter in and find seats with their friends. After a somewhat deliberate introduction, the rest of the band assembled the stage. Haynes was joined by Mule co-founder Matt Abts on drums and Danny Louis on keys.

George PorterWe would be treated to rotating coterie of bassists throughout the night, beginning with George Porter, Jr. of the legendary funk band The Meters from New Orleans. Porter and Abts quickly went to work filling out the bottom end of the band's sound, giving fans the much anticipated southern-fried blues rock that they had waited in line for. Warren Haynes used the additional cushion of his band mates as an opportunity to venture on his first true soloing of the evening. The band was in top form, with phenomenal communication and anticipation displayed between Haynes and Abts.

Warren HaynesWarren provided his trademark brawny guitar riffs, punctuating them with the searing, sustained notes that he is revered for. Midway through the first set, Abts encountered some issues with his drum set, and a technician quickly scrambled onstage to rectify the problem. The rest of the band didn't seem to notice or care, as they had locked into a solid groove that had the Fillmore rocking. After an hour had passed, Porter passed the torch to bassist Dave Schools of Widespread Panic to the delight of many in attendance. Schools anchored the group's sound, giving them an almost palpable funk, a much heavier sound than before.

Dave SchoolsPerhaps the most striking feature of the marathon two-hour opening set was the depth and versatility of the sounds coming off the stage. Aided by the revolving door of bassists, the dynamics of the group morphed throughout the night, ranging from the classic grittiness Gov't Mule has come to embody to some light funky/reggae jams that were stylistically similar to that of The Police in their early days. The band finished the set with a rousing rendition of "Eminence Front" by The Who, which sharpened the focus of the crowd and heightened anticipation for the next set.

After a very short intermission, the band returned to the stage with Danny Louis leading the way with the opening notes of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter." This created a near-Pavlovian response of high-fives and hugs from the crowd, and the band seemed to feed off the collective energy. Haynes handled the vocals with astounding accuracy, with technological augmentations bridging the gap to Robert Plant's unique vocal inflections. What followed was a downright sinister version of the song, with Abts providing the perfect counterpoints to Haynes' piercing riffs.

The second set had a much looser feel to it relative to the first, with Greg Rzab making an appearance on bass, and Porter and Schools also sharing the honors on a rotating basis. The set continued with its fair share of cover songs, including Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was 9." The band teased Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," which segued into the set-closing "Soulshine," fan-favorite and song of the year at the 2002 Jammy's -- a perfect nightcap for the Denver crowd. For the encore, Haynes & Co. had trouble deciding which bassist to bring out. Rather than forcing the issue, the crowd was delighted to witness all three emerge for the final jam of the night featuring six musicians onstage.

As things wrapped up just after midnight, an ecstatic crowd poured onto Colfax Avenue, still brimming with unbridled enthusiasm over what had just transpired in the opulence of the Fillmore. An outstanding show by any standard, Gov't Mule once again delivered the goods and satiated the demands of hardcore fans while capturing the interest of newcomers as well. Don't miss the chance to see Gov't Mule on their cross-country tour this Fall!

Gov't Mule Fall Tourdates

Nathan Rodriguez
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 10/29/02]

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