Friday Night Gov’t Mule Kicks Ass in Bristol
Friday nights do not get better than this. Sunny Bristol, excited queue outside O2 Academy all waiting for the door to open and Gov’t Mule to step on stage and let the music take over. First time in twenty years of kicking ass Gov’t Mule arrived in Bristol, to bring their own special brand of live music. With a huge repertoire the set list was going to be a magical journey unfolding the musical magic of Warren Haynes on guitar and vocals, Matt Abts Drum, Jorgen Carlsson on bass completing the rhythm section and Danny Louis on organ and keyboards. These four musicians create a crescendo of sounds as they jam and move around the music never chaotic, the journey is wild and exciting and they always know the route home. The electrifying mystery and delight for fans is what will they pick from the albums that preserve the sweetest Mule jams. Will tonight be the night I hear the tune I want. Gov’t Mule is like British weather the on certainty is you are not going to know what weather front they will be blowing in on next.
The tour celebrating twenty years mixes skillful covers with a selection of tracks from a myriad of albums. Opening with 32-20 Blues Gov’t Mule takes Bristol back to Robert Johnson and the dawning of the recorded blues. The slide is slipping over the strings the fingers play the fret Warren Haynes is in my opinion one of the best guitar players around today. He makes the guitar talk to the audience, as his voice harmonises and the lyrics are deep and full of storyteller delights. The next two tracks have a common theme ‘Child, Wandering Child from Live… With A Little Help From Our Friends returned to a few times throughout the set. As the last phrase of the chorus fades, help me now, save the wandering child; merges seamlessly into Child of the Earth another album checked off there is nothing miscellaneous about the playing it is sharp and fun.
Never pigeon-hole a band who turns jamming into a professional art form. They mix in the styles yes, there’s rock with echoes of the south, with country, pop, blues all merging creating an artist palette of tonal textures and shapes. Snippets of tunes we recognize are incorporated like a tasty tease, including, Manhattan Transfer’s Birdland in Game Face and Beatles I Want You (She’s so Heavy) ending Monkey Hill. The crowds whooped with delight, clapped and cheered when a song they want to hear was live in Bristol tonight and the cowbell added to the party feel. The crowd sung back louder and louder with each successive chorus on Humble Pies 30 Days in the Hole, this was heating up the venue to fever pitch.
The encore was extra time with Gov’t Mule we were delighted taking us straight into the deep end… the guitar once again was silky sexual tension that fed off the keys of Danny, drumming from Matt and the bass line that purrs from Jorgen. Beautifully Broken was holding everyone in Bristol tonight enthralled with Beautifully Broken. Could it get better, was there anything else unexpected in the melting pot of the band. Of course there was as the tempo changed and the Beatifully Broken eloquently merged into When Doves Cry. Wow oh wow! what a tribute. Closing out the night that will be long remembered and talked about, the gig of 2016 for many with Railroad Boy a traditional Celtic folk song underlining the immense breadth the band has and the majesty in which they play every song.
Bristol tonight were mesmerized by over two and half hours of spine tingling music, live and dangerous’ This is music that connects with your backbone, and like a drug plays straight into your nervous system. Exciting, thrilling and is a roller coaster of riffs, chords medleys and power, the power of live music that is priceless. The Mule came to Bristol and conquered the city come back again we want to hear more of you.