Mules & Englishmen
Gov't Mule - The Beacon Theater, New York City
December 31, 2011
of big shows, reunions, festivals, and the like coming up in 2012, but the
one to beat was actually in progress as 2001 faded into 2012. Gov't Mule
were on stage at the Beacon Theatre for the second night of their tenth
annual New York New Year's Eve gig and they delivered big time.
first set featured Mule material with Warren Haynes playing like it was
an encore at Bonaroo rather than the first few tunes of the evening. They
started with Railroad Boy" and ran through a magnificent set that
included "Mule; a stretched out "Thorazine Shuffle;" about
a half dozen other tunes, and closed with a lively "St. Stephen >
Eternity's Breath > Trane with a tasty Beatles "Norwegian Wood"
as a tease.
After a break they returned for the second set where they covered Joe
Cocker's classic "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" live album. Mule
was accompanied by the Chronic Horns; Jenny Hill on saxophone, Pam Fleming
on trumpet, and Buford O'Sullivan on trombone and vocalists Alicia Shakur
(from Warren's band), Machan Taylor and Mint Carlsson. Together they recreated
the sound of a band that was only together for one historic tour. With
the exception of "Delta Lady,' and "Superstar,' both penned
by Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett, the tunes Mad Dogs covered were written
by Lennon & McCartney, Dave Mason, Jagger & Richards, Leonard
Cohen, Ashford & Simpson, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Jerry Butler,
Bob Dylan and more. So Mule were doing covers of covers and it was brilliant.
They were into Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" as the clock approached
midnight. Then keyboardist Danny Louis led them into "Auld Lang Syne,"
as red, white and blue balloons dropped from the Beacon's rafters. Instantly
Mule kicked into "Feelin' Alright" and the entire audience was
feeling just that as the new year began.
The entire second set consisted of: Intro, "Honky Tonk Women,"
"Sticks & Stones," "Cry Me a River," "Bird
on a Wire," "Feelin' Alright," "Superstar;" then
two tunes that spotlighted what a great soul singer Warren Haynes is;
his version of Ray Charles classic "Let's Go Get Stoned," and
then Sam & Dave, and Otis Redding got respect they deserved when he
sang in the Blues Medley: "I'll Drown in My Own Tears/When Something
Is Wrong with My Baby/I've Been Loving You Too Long." The soul portion
of the show was outstanding.
It was followed by a Keith Richards moment as drummer Mat Abts came out
from behind his kit and sang a duet with Warren on Dylan's, "Girl
From The North Country."
The full band, chorus, and horns were back to wind things up with "Give
Peace a Chance," "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,"
"Space Captain," "The Letter," and "Delta Lady."
this one of a kind album was a brilliant idea and well executed. The keyboard
work by Danny Louis was nothing short of magnificent. Keyboards were played
by two guys in the original Mad Dogs, Leon Russell and Chris Stainton,
but Louis hit it out of the park.
There no doubt will be live CD's of the evening available through the
Mule organization, but nothing will capture the excitement of having been
there. They probably won't do it again, but you never know. The point
is anytime you go to see Gov't Mule you are in for a treat and surprises
so don't miss their next one.
was also a reminder that the original "Mad Dogs & Englishmen
"CD is available. There's also a DVD documentary of the entire tour
which shares the same name. Most of the album was recorded at New York's
Fillmore East in the spring of 1970. Joe Cocker is the front man and the
bandleader is Leon Russell. The band consists of 21 singers and players
who would go on to become Derek & the Dominoes' rhythm-section and
the Rolling Stones' horn section. Other members included, Jim Gordon,
Rita Coolidge, Bobby Keyes, Jim Keltner, and Claudia Lennear. And there
are tunes that Mule didn't include in their set on the CD such as "Darling
Be Home Soon," "Further on up the Road," "Something,"
Meanwhile back at the Beacon, Mule returned for a short third set featuring
"Sco-Mule," a gospel take on "Soulshine," and closed
out the entire extravaganza with Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released."
So the last night of the old year ended and the very first few hours of
the New Year began with a concert that enters my top ten of all time.
The show, Warren Haynes, and Gov't Mule were that good. They are that
see them live any time you can.