LIVE: Gov’t Mule @ the Palace Theatre, 4/26/18
Review by Mark Alexander Hudson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
“You guys are crazy! We’ll do one more for you…”
It was five minutes to midnight. Gov’t Mule was wrapping up an epic show at Albany’s Palace Theatre and seemed in no hurry to leave. They had already played two encores, and then, buoyed by the crowd response, they launched, fittingly enough, into “Statesboro Blues,” the chestnut popularized by the Allman Brothers Band back in the ’70s.
Adopted by the jam band faithful, Gov’t Mule have history. Bandleader, guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes has served in the trenches with the aforementioned Allmans, the Dickey Betts Band and various Grateful Dead offshoots, in addition to leading his own combo – the Mule – since 1994. Gov’t Mule play a muscular brand of blues-rock, highlighted by Haynes’ soulful vocals and fiery guitar work. True to the jam band tradition they can also mix flavors of funk and jazz into their musical gumbo. His bandmates are Matt Abts (drums), Danny Louis (keyboards, trombone) and Jorgen Carlsson (bass).
The tall mike stands that were planted around the middle of the theater paid testament to the fact that, like the Dead in their heyday, this is a band that actively encourages the taping and sharing of their shows in an online community.
The first set was a little lethargic for me, with a few too many mid-tempo numbers, but it did include an instrumental workout of Billy Cobham’s “Stratus” that eventually led into a crowd-pleasing take on the Allmans’
After a break the energy level from the stage noticeably increased as the band warmed to the task at hand. Kicking off with “Catfish Blues” – featuring guest harp player Hook Herrera – the band kicked it up a notch with tougher, rockier material, culminating with a fine version of the Allmans’ fave “Soulshine” (which Haynes wrote) that proved what a strong singer he really is.
Then it was into the encores – an eclectic mix of T Rex, Tom Petty and then “Statesboro.” Guesting, along with Herrera, was Tin Machine, The Cure and long-time Bowie sideman, guitarist Reeves Gabrels. You had the feeling that the Mule would have been happy to play all night and into the morning hours. And the crowd certainly would have let them…
Opening the show was the Kentucky hard-rockin’ blues band Black Stone Cherry. They delivered a high energy set that went down well with the Mule fans that had bothered to turn up early.
GOV’T MULE SET LIST
Million Miles from Yesterday
World Gone Wild
Stone Cold Rage
Drawn That Way
Game Face (reprise)
The Man I Want to Be
I’m a Ram
Bad Little Doggie
Bad Man Walking
Thorns of Life
Banks of the Deep End
Kind of Bird
Bring on the Music
Children of the Revolution
You Don’t Know How It Feels