Running hot and strong for 20 years, Gov’t Mule shouted out their love of blues fueled rock with all their friends “A Squared.”
Gov’t Mule defines hard-working rock chiseled from the bedrock of blues. The Michigan Theater was full of die-hard fans ready to spend some quality time with a band known for multiple sets of songs with extended jams. Quite a few people had Farmer shirts in honor of the late Brian Farmer who was Warren Hayne’s long time guitar tech and had passed away in August of 2014.
Out of the gate, the Mule played “Brand New Angel” with its chugging rhythms that let Matt Abts (drums) and Jorgen Carlsson dig in while Warren and Danny Louis (keyboards and guitars) traded licks. Dark and dirty blues snarled on “Mother Earth” where Warren’s guitar cut the crowd down to the bone with lines that sigh softly and then howl with hellish fury.
“Broke Down On The Brazos” offered up jams by Haynes with Carlsson and Abts effortlessly laying down a groundwork of pulsing beats. This song segued into “Tributary Jam” which was the springboard for a cover of Bob Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself”. From their tenth studio album Shout!, the audience was treated to “Whisper In Your Soul” which sounded like something the Beatles could have written and the sensual funk of “Stoop So Low.”
The first set of the night closed out with an extended version of “Mule” where Warren Hayne’s slide guitar set the stage on fire. The band also gave us a teaser of Van Morrison’s “I’ve Been Workin” that sounded very much like the version Bob Seger did back on Live Bullet.
The simmering and smoky “No Reward” started off set number two. The jazzy jive of “Sco-Mule” had people in the aisles ready to dance and provided plenty of opportunity for Haynes and Louis to riff and roll. “Forevermore” was exquisite in it is sorrowful caress as Warren’s voice and guitar cried as one.
The rock returned with “Maybe I’m a Leo” full of sweat and swagger. The band sat out for a bit as Matt Abts took his drum kit for a ride. It was amazing how smoothly he can swing that kit. A Mediterranean mood hovered in the air as “Dolphineus” swam into “Painted Silver Light” with all its aching beauty. Excellent playing by every member of the band was exhibited as they wrapped up the second set with “Thorazine Shuffle.”
With the crowd coming to their feet and screaming for more, Gov’t Mule returned to play “Soulshine,” which put a huge smile on everyone’s face as they held hands up into the air and celebrated the gift of music.