Friday, September 25th, 2014 | Los Angeles, California

Review by Danny Coleman

Photos by Kimberly Annette ©2014

As the lights dimmed, a deep red glow saturated the Orpheum Theatre’s stage. In the distance, the ever so faint warble of an organ crescendo is heard. Thundering atop is the pounding ripple between two toms, separated by the crack of a snare drum. The clang of dark, crashing cymbals breaks the troposphere. Simultaneously a melodic whine emanates from the strings of a Les Paul and joined by a rhythmic bass strum. The tonality only randomly making sense suddenly ruptures into a familiar riff. The jam is on, “Where’s My Mule?”

Warren Haynes & Jorgen Carlsson

Jam – Band, noun. A rock band whose performances include long, unscripted, meandering segments which experiment with structure and sound. Jam bands typically play very long sets whose playlists are only vaguely defined by lists of “songs.” Jam band fans often heighten their musical experience by taking hallucinogenic drugs or by smoking pot. – THE URBAN DICTIONARY

Warren HaynesPerhaps a fitting definition for one of rock’s premier acts today; the one and only Gov’t Mule. With the Allman Brothers Band facing the very real possibility of taking a well-deserved break; Warren Haynes and the rest of the Mule have ascended rapidly into the upper echelon of the “Jam-Band” realm. A recent performance at the Los Angeles’s Orpheum Theater further cemented this status.

Haynes together with, Matt Abts, Danny Louis and Jorgen Carlsson kicked the jam with the first murmur of sound as they took the stage. Opening the two-plus hour show with “Mule,” the boisterous crowd hooted and whistled. Letting out an occasional “YEAH,” the crowd welcomed Gov’t Mule on their feet.

“Gameface” followed next and with ease the Mule worked their way into an Allman Brothers classic, “Mountain Jam.” Haynes’ guitar savvy elevated  the temperature in the room causing those feelin’ it to roar to their feet with several screaming out fully engulfed in the free flowing jam.

Haynes’s versatility as a musician and vocalist give him access to a wide range of cover material to incorporate into any set. This show was no exception including songs from Ray Charles and Johnny Cash. But one of the more interesting choices Elvis Costello’s “Funny Little Tragedy,” which  turned up on “Shout” also made it to the night’s setlist. Effortlessly Haynes led the way blending “Funny Little Tragedy” with “Message In A Bottle” by the Police.

Warren Haynes & Matt AbtsThe flow of the evening is at the whim of Haynes, who leads the way changing styles, bending sound and merging tunes using just raw talent and tireless energy. All the while making it appear seamless and flawless. None more evident than when “Kind of Bird” with its teaser of Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary” sailed into “Banks of the Deep End.” With only a brief “Thank You” from Haynes, his soulful vocals permeated this selection from start to finish, firmly putting his stamp on this one as only Haynes can. As he belts out, “Down the banks of the deep end, where I lost my best friend,” one can only wonder if thoughts of recently passed Brian Farmer drift through his thoughts.

“Captured” and “Broke Down on the Brazos” took the revved up crowd to the end of the first set; the former a mellow lead in (after a brief guitar change) to the hard driving latter; wrapping up the first set in a tight one hour and nine minutes.

Set number two kicked off with the strong slide guitar work of “Done Got Wise,” which bled into a Ray Charles cover, “I Believe to My Soul.”   With homage Haynes declared, ” This is for Brother Ray,”  as he invited two special guests out on stage; Jimmy Vivino on guitar and Jeff Babko on keyboards.

“Brighter Days” gave way to “Fallen Down” which saw the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” creep in like ivy up an old stone wall. The Grateful Dead’s “The Other One Jam” was next which included the continuation of some “Gimme Shelter” lyrics.
Gov't Mule
Matt Abts, who is perhaps one of the more underrated and most unmentioned drummers in rock music today; ripped up the Orpheum with a drum solo that, was incredibly rhythmic and extremely tasty. Abts skillfully navigated his kit with ease; starting off with a neat cowbell, cymbal bell call and answer as bassist Carlsson as the rest of the band slipped into the shadows. Abts has mastered his “John Bonham triplets” seemingly with ease as he played them to perfection interspersed with great snare drum accents. This six-minute solo ended as it started, with Carlsson rejoining Abts in a now bass driven segue into Haynes return. Reappearing with a Ann Peebles cover, “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home;” Haynes  Vivino once again,  and Yoshi Yanagi (Jimmy Kimmel house band) as the one hour and two-minute set now sped towards its close.

A brief respite and three more cover tunes closed the evening; the first of which was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Effigy,” transitioning into the second;  a lengthy jam version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” The evening ended with a semi-psychedelic version of Al Green’s “I’m A Ram,” which came around full circle into a sweet little blues jam by song’s end.

Overall, another well delivered performance from Haynes and the Mule as they continue their blistering touring schedule which has seen them do 23 shows in 31 nights since September 12th. Visit the links below to discover more about Govt. Mule.









Where's My Mule? | Gov't Mule at The Orpheum Theatre
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