Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Friday, December 27th, 2013

Review by Danny Coleman

 Photos by Kimberly Annette 

(Photos from Gov’t Mule Show, Los Angeles, CA October 30th, 2013)

There’s government waste, government red tape, and government shutdowns, but there’s nothing like seeing Gov’t Mule! Recently, I saw firsthand the load that the Mule is packin’ as I witnessed the first of two great nights at The Tower Theater.

_H5A1495Opening act Soulive, an amazing three-piece unit with a sound much larger than their numbers, wowed the crowd with a blistering, nearly hourlong set to get the evening started. Warren Haynes called guitarist Eric Krasnos and keyboard whiz Neal Evans onstage for an elongated first set closing jam to “Devil Likes It Slow.” Watching Krasnos and Haynes feed off one another was a true delight, as this set steamed like a freight train towards its close.

“World Boss,” from Gov’t Mule’s most recent two-disc set, SHOUT!, got their set off to a rollicking start. Haynes took charge from the opening chords, and the rest of the band fell right in line. This hard-driving tune definitely set the tone for the evening as The Mule ripped off great tune after great tune in their nine-song first set. “Broke Down on the Brazos,” followed with a lengthy “Tributary Jam,” which segued into the gutsy “Stoop So Low.” It was at this point that saxophonist Ron Holloway came out onto the stage and waited for his cue from Haynes to rip into a fantastic solo that had the already appreciative crowd rising from their seats in approval. The highlight of this particular number, however, came when Holloway and Haynes performed a little impromptu call and answer which was initiated by Haynes, something easily detectable from my fifth-row-center vantage point. This was the first of several appearances throughout the two sets by Holloway, and his presence only added to the band’s sound.

Slowing things down a bit, “Forsaken Savior” showcased Haynes once again, both vocally, as well as with some of his trademark soulful guitar licks. “Banks of the Deep End,” “Rocking Horse” and “Trouble Every Day”  followed, the last featuring Holloway once again, with some scintillating sax solos.

After a slightly longer than 35-minute break, “Unring the Bell” got the capacity crowd back on its feet. “Endless Parade” was next, _H5A0371followed by “Mr. Man,” and then straight into what seemed like an endless jam session of “Streamline Woman,” “Fallen Down,” “The Other One,” “She Said, She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Amidst all of this lengthy jamming was the second of drummer Matt Abts’ three solos over the course of the evening. This one, longer than the others, featured a very John Bonhamesque portion where sticks were discarded in favor of bare palms. Throughout the evening, Abts, who received no break whatsoever (other than between sets), was as steady a drummer as this reviewer has ever witnessed. A rarity these days when the drummer gets one solo of length, let alone three. Abts found ways to make all of them different, nary repeating any fills. Coming out of the solo, the band broke into altered versions of The Beatles’ “Tax Man” and several choruses of  “Hey Jude” before Haynes and Abts performed a neat call and answer once again—each mimicking one another’s challenges. “Blind Man in the Dark” closed the evening, but not before the band teased the crowd (already rife with rumors of a possible Robby Krieger appearance) with several measures of the Doors’ classic “Riders on the Storm.”

_H5A1092Several obligatory minutes later, the band reemerged for a three-song encore, which seemed a bit disjointed. Bassist Jorgen Carlsson seemed a bit puzzled as to what was taking the rest of the group so long to join him as he played the elongated intro to “One of These Days.” Once in unison, Haynes gave his own spin to this borrowed tune as his solos were right on the money (which, incidentally, followed “Fearless”). “Money” did close the three-song encore, but it was not without its troubles. There were a couple of occasions where Haynes and Carlsson were not on the same page, situations quickly corrected with a head nod from Haynes as he righted the ship, in time for yet another blast from Holloway as he nailed every high and each low with precision. A scorching Haynes guitar solo more than made up for the minor communication error earlier and brought this evening to a great end.

With the first of two nights now in the books, there were definite Mule Tracks over all in attendance. The cost of a ticket being well below what the show was worth only added to the crowd‘s satisfaction as they filtered out into the cold Philly night well after 12 midnight. This was my first Mule ride, and I know for sure, it won‘t be my last!




Full Photo Gallery from the Gov’t Mule Show with Special Guest Robby Krieger, The Fonda Theater, Los Angeles, CA October 30th, 2013


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