Gov’t Mule: Bank of America Pavillion, Boston, MA 7/31/09

Gov’t Mule tends to pull out all the stops when they play in Boston and their latest appearance, at Bank of America Pavilion July 31st, contained a clutch of memorable moments on a number of fronts, including some truly spectacular.

No musician could’ve looked more at ease on stage than Warren Haynes onthis humid summer night and his good-humored comments to the enthusiastic crowd bore out his affection for Beantown. Not nearly so much as the way he dove right into the music though-out. Grimacing as he reached for the notes of solos on “Wandering Child" and "Larger than Life" seemed, as is so often the case, somewhat forced, but the head of the Mule became more economical in his guitaring as the night wore on, reminding his fans (and no doubt himself as well) that the proper exercise of restraint makes his playing most forceful.

Even “Soulshine” radiated authority and deep feeling, while the other highlights from selections of Gov’t Mule’s own discography included the understated and personal likes of "New World Blues," "I Shall Return" and No Need to Suffer": the first rung like the statement of faith it is, the second was decorated with the refrain of Dobie Gray’s "Drift Away"("…I wanna get lost in your rock and roll…") while the third found new bassist Jorgen Carlsson further differentiating himself from his predecessor Andy Hess: the new recruit assaults rather than insinuates and has no problems going head to head with Haynes (Carlsson opened up “Mr. Man” as well).

The dynamic of the whole band has changed, though, and it’s not just in that Danny Louis’ keyboards are more distinct or that he plays guitar more often (as on the raucous opening of The Beatles "Helter Skelter"); Matt Abts has learned to swing when he drums as he mirrors Haynes’ riffing (though he continues to call too much attention to himself on his drums solos rather than develop rhythmic ideas).

The choice of cover material elevated this performance on the city’s waterfront. On "Train Kept A Rollin’," Gov’t Mule moved with as much vicious momentum as they did all night through their two sets (perhaps as a nod to hometown heroes Aerosmith as much as The Yardbirds and Sonny Boy Williamson). Alice Cooper’s "Is It My Body’s” tongue-in-cheek delivery belied the fact it’s bone-crushing riff is right in the Mule’s collective wheelhouse just like that of Humble Pie’s "Thirty Days in the Hole," offered as the second encore. Then there’s the new interpolation  of Stevie Wonder’s "Superstition" within the group’s self-referential song "Mule."

But it was the version of The Doors’ "When the Music’s Over," faithful to the original but taken to heart and heights of drama by Haynes & co for approximately fifteen minutes, that was enough in itself to have wags under the tent muttering about ‘epic Mule shows’ past and present. Such observations weren’t far off the mark, if at all.



Set 1

Helter Skelter

Wandering Child

Larger Than Life

Is It My Body

New World Blues

Fool’s Moon

I Shall Return->

Drift Away Reprise

Mr. High & Mighty



Set 2

Endless Parade

Train Kept A Rollin’


No Need To Suffer->


When The Music’s Over




Temporary Saint

Thirty Days In The Hole


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