Mule as they like to be known, are a four-piece formed in 1994 by ex-Allman brother’s guitarist and singer Warren Haynes who is also associated with the surviving members of The Grateful Dead and still plays on many of their shows. They are a southern jam band pronounced Government Mule and have a fanbase ranging from young to old, in fact walking up to the gig we met a super fan who was from Athens, Georgia. Born and raised on the Allman Brothers and he had seen the band 85 times up to now and had followed them all over Scotland and the UK this year, and that almost every time he had seen them each gig was different, not surprising as they have over 300 songs in their catalogue.
The Forum was less than half full, probably because a festival a few miles up the road was on, as was the European cup final, but I was still a little surprised at the poor attendance.
You definitely get your money’s worth with this band as they were to play a three-hour set split into two halves, the laid-back Warren doesn’t say a lot, in fact, he shouted, “How Ya Doing” and that was it. Starting with the Joan Baez/Bob Dylan song Railroad Boy with an impressive Keyboard solo from Danny Louis, wasting no time and the second song in Warren was introducing the band with some solos from the incredible drummer Matt Abts and Bassist Jorgen Carlsson. It was difficult to understand Warren’s southern accent at times when he did communicate, but his voice more than made up for that with his velvet tones filling the hall.
Continuing with The Man I Want To Be, Game Face, andRevolution Come Revolution Go; it was time to introduce a special guest: Joe Bonamassa, which received the biggest cheer from the crowd so far. Warren duetting with Joe on his song If Heartaches were Nickels, and Jeff Beck’s Freeway Jam where the two axemen had a little duelling guitar thing going on.
The first ninety minutes were over so time for a twenty-minute break and a drink in a very hot hall.
Returning to the stage the man of few words did what he does best, entertaining with some incredible guitar solos on Thorns of Life and the crowd favourite Mule then another jam; this time from the rhythm section where Matt and Jorgen showed off their talents, a wonderful cover of the Allman brothers hit Soulshine which Warren sang with such passion followed by the Mule song Trane where he introduced a little bit of Third Stone from the Sun, so this Hendrix nut was a happy bunny. Ending the night with MrMan segueing into Deep Purple’s Highway Star the crowd eventually gave them the applause they deserved: not letting them finish with cries of more brought them back to finish with Endless Parade which nearly overran the curfew time.
Not all of the set worked tonight, some of the 16 songs they played were a little too long and also some of the solos but whatever you think of them the Mule definitely delivers a different kind of show.
Their tenth and new album along with a concert film of the same title Bring on the music live at Capitol Theatre is released on June 28thin a two CD two DVD package and other formats and if you thought a three-hour concert wasn’t enough for you this is over five hours.
Review by Dave Martin & pics by Carol Henson aka LadyGigger