When they announced that Gov’t Mule was making a return to Huntsville, I was in as soon as tickets went on sale. Outside of a local band, I have seen Warren Haynes more than I have any other band. I am a fan! I have seen Warren play live with The Allman Brothers Band, The Warren Haynes Band and obviously Gov’t Mule.
It is always a pleasure going to a Mule show because the fans act as if we are all family. Who wouldn’t enjoy being in a place where, it seems, everybody knows everyone else? Just stand still for a minute and you will likely get drawn into a conversation about how much everyone enjoys a Mule show. A Gov’t Mule concert is more than just music. It is a journey. I spoke with long time and multi-concert attendee and fellow photographer Stephen Pyle and here is what he had to say, “The Mule has been a spiritual journey for me as much as it has for Warren and the band probably…growth, changes, death…the Mule is still the Mule and I am still me, but different.”
Not only can a Mule show be a journey. It can be a passage. Although, Gov’t Mule came into formation in 1993 when Warren Haynes and, since deceased, bass player Allen Woody formed Gov’t Mule as a side project of the Allman Brothers, they continue to pick up new fans. I ran across a local musician who was attending his first Gov’t Mule concert. Jude Roberts said, “My first Gov’t Mule show had me floating. The energy and the musical choices were perfect. Warren Haynes, and his band, are collectively and separately the MAN!”
On with the show! As this concert got closer, I looked online a few times to see what opening band had the honor of opening the show. Gov’t Mule seems to always have a great up and coming opening band. Tonight, would be a show with no opener. If you’re a fan, you know what that means. This will be a night of two full sets of Gov’t Mule. It doesn’t get any better than that!
The first set opening song was “Bad Little Doggie”. The opening guitar comes at you like a locomotive! This set would be filled with Gov’t Mule songs and a great selection of covers. “Mr. High & Mighty” followed by “Inside Outside Woman Blues”. It would appear that the band is trying to give us songs from varying recordings throughout the years as “Burning Point” and “Larger Than Life” continued to engulf this set with fire.
As a photographer backstage, I took a sneak peek at the set-list. I know it’s cheating, but I had to look. The next song in the set caught me by surprise as Warren began the opening lines to “Hunger Strike” the Temple of the Dog song. “Hunger Strike” included a teaser midway of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” as it wound down back to “Hunger”. The next song was also a combination of songs. A music trait that Gov’t Mule has become so good at. “Trane-Rumble-Eternity Shuffle-St. Stephen Jam” followed by “The Man I want To Be” to end the first set.
The second set begins with a crowd pleasing “Soulshine”. Everyone loves that song! Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes were a great song writing pair. Speaking of Gregg Allman, “Dreams” follows which makes this fan happy.
The second set is even more on fire than the first with songs like “Thelonius Beck” “My Separate Reality” “I’m A Ram” & “Effigy” the Credence Clearwater Revival cover. I know, don’t be jealous. We got to hear “Ram” & “Effigy” back-to-back. I love both of those songs. The Tommy Shaw cover “Gonna Send You Back To Georgia (A City Slick)” comes next to end the second set. Say it isn’t over yet!
Here is where I cheated and looked at the set list that I saw earlier in the night. I was thrown off as the band drifted off of the set list again to come back to an encore of “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” a Bobby “Blue” Bland cover.
This was, as always, a fantastic show. I enjoy seeing Gov’t Mule play a show by themselves so that you get the two full sets. I have seen some very good opening bands play with The Mule, but I was there to see Mule, and I got plenty for my moneys. I asked first time attendee Jude Roberts, who I mentioned earlier, if he enjoyed the show and if he had plans on attending another. His reply was “Yes! I loved the show! I will be catching Gov’t Mule every time they’re near!”.
My question for the ready is, got Mule? If not, you need to!