The Allmans and The Mule: Brothers of the Road
Tailoring their usually free-wheeling extended performances to the opening act niche, Gov't Mule nevertheless proved to be an ideal opener for The Allman Brothers Band. The quartet are all about music first and foremost and combined with their growing popularity and the fevered response to their playing, Mule set just the right tone for the evening each of the two nights.
The sets were distinctly different, suggesting how versatile and professional are Warren Haynes, Danny Louis, Matt Abst and Andy Hess. August 25th found them in a most conventional mode, with Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross the sole left-field cover. But it's intriguing to witness how the Mule has evolved from an essentially improvisational unit to a more song-oriented approach: the intelligence remains in place and the inclination to jam finds its level within the structure of the sets as a whole instead of compositions designed for improvisation.
What Gov't Mule did at the Tweeter was exactly along those lines and appropriate for an early arriving crowd. Unlike the New Hampshire attendees, seemingly more curious than converts, Massachusetts had its contingent of Muleheads ready for the likes of The Beatles "She Said She Said leading without interruption into an almost totally instrumental rendition of "Tomorrow Never Knows (where Warren teased the guitar solo from "A Hard Days' Night!?).
In the context of a setlist that contained such tried and true selections such as "Bad Little Doggie and "Thorazine Shuffle , the appearance of tunes from the just released High & Mighty, like the rousing title song and the reggae-rhythm of "Unring The Bell, sounded perfectly of a piece.
"About to Rage and "Perfect Shelter, vicious rock from the previous cd (and first recording of the quartet) Deja Voodoo, provided additional evidence, as if any was needed, that Gov't Mule are a band as steeped in style as of tremendous work ethic. While much is being made of the topical slant of the new album, this band has a heart: "I'll Be The One is soul music pure and simple (and would sound great with horns!).
As with their brothers of the road, The Allmans, the crowds at Gov't Mule shows may not know all the details of band's history - 'Warren Haynes is in ABB?,' 'Where's "Blue Sky?"', - those perceptions only serve to focus primarily on the music rather than the cult of personality. These two nights of galvanizing performances are a testament to the strength and subtlety of music that stands on its own terms.
Fredy Guzman-Hittin' The Note
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