Gov’t Mule Blazes Through Eclectic Blues Jams in Portland (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

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It only took Gov’t Mule three songs – “Mr. Man”, “Streamline Woman”, and “Burning Point” – to establish themselves as diverse musical creatures with straightforward rock, hard charging blues, and slinky funk. Cramming so many musical styles into the first few moments of a nearly three hour performance in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday, September 19 was a wise move, signaling that Warren Haynes and company were not looking to mess around. The jam favorites are currently on tour supporting their new album, the aptly titled Revolution Come…Revolution Go, and in Portland they were determined to give the fans at the Roseland Theater a taste of new material alongside deep cuts and their best known tunes.

By the time Mule barreled into “Rocking Horse” they had already built considerable momentum. This tune found keyboardist Danny Louis taking a breather while his bandmates shredded heavy as a 3-piece. One of the most beautiful moments of the night soon followed when the song segued into a slow burning blues guitar solo from Warren complemented by a laid back jazz drumbeat from Matt Abts to take the band into “Which Way Do We Run”. The drummer quickly changed the mood with an array of jungle sounds that led into one of the longest jams of the night. Warren was nothing but smiles as he indulged the fans with a mostly instrumental cover of Bob Marley’s reggae classic “Lively Up Yourself”, adding a little Mule spice by occasionally exploding into raw blues breakdowns. Things were lively indeed as Warren welcomed Portland drummer and B.B. King bandmate Tony Coleman for the soulful blues staple “Need Your Love So Bad”, ending in high fashion when Coleman commented: “B.B. king loved the shit out of this guy right here!” The set would close in familiar territory with longtime Mule favorite “Soulshine”, with at least one lighter being raised as the band gave the audience a much needed boost of positivity in today’s troubled world.

While set two felt a bit more subdued than the first, it was not without highlights. A loping and loose “Don’t Step On The Grass Sam” made a rare appearance complete with Bob Dylan-esque lyrical signboards held by a roadie that went over well in pro-pot Oregon and even featured a quick tease of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”. With the energy high, the band slowed things down for a few songs before ultimately letting Warren take the spotlight and show off his bottomless bag of guitar tricks. “Child of the Earth” felt overly mellow and quiet at first but once it led into the triumphant power of “Painted Silver Light” the band was once again firing off on full blast.

One of the highlights of the night came at the end of set two when the band wrapped with the always epic and swaggering “Thorazine Shuffle”. While this version didn’t stretch super long, it did shine with Danny Louis’ flamingo style organ solo and a psycho disco cowbell solo courtesy of Matt Abts. Although plenty of fans were clamoring for more Mule, the straightforward Southern rocker “Stone Cold Rage” – a new song – ended the show on the same high note that it began.

All photos by Greg Homolka. 

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