MULE GOT SOUL : : PHILADELPHIA

Gov't Mule and Soulive :: 09.12.04 :: Electric Factory :: Philadelphia, PA

Philly was once again in the throes of Indian summer. The metropolis was hot and sticky as I made my way over to a friends place in Old City. The hangover I acquired from the night before was taking its toll. I was grumpy, sweaty, and excessively dehydrated. I have tried to avoid going out in this condition, but damn: Gov't Mule playing on a night the Eagles won. No way in hell would I miss it. Warren Haynes was not the only pull that evening. There was another guitar workhorse in the house, one Mr. Eric "I'll rip yer ears out" Krasno and the rest of the Soulive crew.


Electric Factory :: 09.12.04
It had been a few months since I've shed sweat in the Electric Factory and the "old gal" underwent some plastic surgery over the summer. The place now sports a Double-D lighting rig and some liposuction on the old indoor fluorescent-painted Electric Factory sign. We each found our way inside in time to let Soulive vibrate us into an early evening coma. Once you're inside the Electric Factory and enjoying the music, well the old gal can sure give you that special feeling too.

I was intrigued that Soulive were opening for Mule since they usually pull two very different audiences. Krasno, Neal Evans and Alan Evans are no strangers to diverse audiences. Last time I saw them, they had pulled a mammoth mass of mixed fans to the TLA. Tonight they stepped up to caress the thighs and bend the steel beams a bit in the famed Philly venue. Their seven-song set brought us through some of Krasno's nasty needlepoint precision and knuckle-down key work by Neal. Alan mashed out his fair share of love too as the night and crowd warmed to the cut of these sultans of funk.


Soulive :: 09.12.04
Soulive tossed us "Aladdin" that had an intro I had never heard before but really dug. The band isn't rooted in any particular form of music, but if you stripped down the sound, at the root there's soul. "1 and 7" brought Neal into the mix, his left hand as tight and groovy as some of the best bass players I've seen. At times, I just stood still and stared in awe, then the beat would come slamming back in, and my whole body would tremor. Alan gets so damn funky on the drums. This "Kraz Fast" tune has some great moments. Alan sang the last song "Do it Again," and man did he sing it, funky as hell.


Matt Abts & Andy Hess :: 09.12.04
The Mule bucked onto the stage by quarter after nine. Their new album Deja Voodoo was thrown right at us. The first new tune of the night, "Mr. Man" was a sound opener, giving Warren Haynes the chance to loosen up. This led into a slinky roller, pulling Andy Hess into his slow jungle march on the bass. In what might be a signature move, Andy stared over at Warren with low-slung eyes, emulating the way he holds his bass. He continued his slow march in place, blending well with Danny Lewis' keyboard style on "Politician." Danny supplied the muck and mire for him to wade his bass notes through. Warren dug this and wailed in, laying another layer of sludgy, raw notes and sugary vocals over the mix.


Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule :: 09.12.04
The second Voodoo tune of the night, "About to Rage," let fly the political view of the band. I had heard this album was quite politically inspired, but I guess it comes thru stronger in certain songs then others. This song gave the crowd a real chance to build steam, and I had sweat dripping from chin to shin. Matt Abts grabbed the controls and motivated both Warren and Danny. They all eased the rage into the third new song, "Lola Leave Your Light On," destined to be a crowd favorite. "Lola" produced one of the tightest, heaviest Warren-led guitar jams all night, and we were carried away on lick after burning lick. Matt and Andy mirrored each other, getting reaction from the crowd. This seemed to set Warren off even more, and he tore into the meatiest part of the song and let the blood fly. You know it's a peak moment when even Warren's guitar tech starts to clap with the audience.

It's good to see you Warren! The pace dropped into "On Your Way Down," a sultry cool down born from the smoldering ashes that Lola left. The show swung into low gear and Warren and Matt pulled the rig into "Mr. Big." The soft yet dark side of Gov't Mule pushed away the red light and brought a cool green and blue sound. "Lola" might be the straight-ahead rocker but this new song, "New World blues," is the evil cousin. As the song wrapped up I saw the silhouette of Neal Evans off to the side of the stage. Warren asked the crowd for a big hand for Soulive before introducing Eric Krasno and Neal Evans. It was on.


Soul-Mule :: 09.12.04
The cheers opened into "Sco-Mule," or better yet "Soul-Mule." It's Eric "The Fist" Krasno vs. Warren "The Man" Haynes, definitely one for the record books. The exchanges back and forth were really something else, determined by a "pass-by-point" system. Eric and Warren started passing the jam back and forth for a bit, getting things warmed up, doing their best Scofield imitation. Incredible live music things started happening here, beginning with a monster tempo switch. Warren sent jams over with a finger point to Neal, who would go nuts on the keys then point to Eric. Eric would grab the jam and turn to face Warren, grinning with determination, and then those two would go at it. Then Eric would pass-by-point over to Danny, and so on. This whole scene transpired for a good 12 minutes. Warren finished the collaboration and first set by saying "Ladies and Gentlemen--Soul-Mule!"


Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule :: 09.12.04
"Beautifully Broken" rang out strong and sunk us back into our sweet sorrow of the Sunday evening rock show. The transition that came next was warmly welcomed in the city that loves you back. "Effigy" > "Painted Silver Light" was Mule of old kicking up its hooves and setting our priorities back in place. Woody would be happy! A friend said, "If you listen to the progression from Mule to Dose to Life Before Insanity, you can see they were heading in a different direction before he passed." I felt that this transition echoed the old days.

The whining had ended and it was time to move. "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" sent balloons into the air. It was a hidden gem in the Philly show just like it was on Life Before Insanity. This crowd had some more life left in it, good to see because I was fading. "Judgment Day" ended with a great keyboard jam that created a down and dirty stew. "No Celebration" was our fifth taste of Deja Voodoo, but it killed the momentum that would have sent this show over the top. This song doesn't sit as well with me. It had potential to build, but never really got off the ground.


Matt Abts of Gov't Mule :: 09.12.04
Matt's drums took the honors now as he stirred our weary legs, his double bass drum thumping us into submission. The crowd had the drum buzz as Deep Banana Blackout's Rob Somerville lent his sax to a smooth as butter drum-sax jam. Matt played a mixture of hand slaps on a little drum while mixing in his booming double bass drum, as Rob wailed swirling notes up to the ceiling. A very Afro-Cuban sound engulfed the whole place as we started grooving. Mule with a sax player is grand, a really full sound. Toss Andy in and you've got a Sunday evening dance party.

Sittin' thinkin' sinkin' drinkin'
Wond'ring what I'll do when I'm through tonight
--from "The Spider and the Fly"

I don't care much what I'll do at home because hot damn, now it's time to put on our dancin' shoes. Cyrus Madden, also from Deep Banana Blackout, jumped into the mix and the whole building was wriggling to "The Spider and the Fly." This Stones song was a real cherry on this Sunday sundae, with Rob's nasty, smoky sax work weaving Warren, Matt, Cyrus, and Andy together. "Rockin Horse" left my jaw on the floor and could have ended the show for me.


Gov't Mule with Rob Somerville :: 09.12.04
"My Separate Reality" made for a slow encore and our last preview of the new album. The show ended at midnight, sending us steaming out into the night.

In hindsight, the band didn't stray too far from the studio versions of songs, but I suppose that was the point. Gov't Mule is way tighter than when I saw them here last fall and I like what Andy Hess brings to the table. All in all, I think some of the new songs have a lot of potential and some will hardly see the light of day after this tour. I've heard complaints about the sound from the beginning of this tour, but so far the playing seems to be pretty darn good. They definitely have started to head away from the Deep End down a different path. The overall direction is strong and works well with both Andy and Danny.

To pull another line from "The Spider and the Fly," "My my my! Don't tell lies! When you've done your show go to bed--Don't say hi, like a spider to a fly." It was time to head home. Till next time--Mule got soul.

All Words & Images by: Jake Krolick
JamBase | Philadelphia
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[Published on: 9/20/04]

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