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Published: 2002/05/27
by Margot Main

Gov’t Mule, John Butler Trio, San Francisco, CA- 5/17

As fog gushed over San Francisco's southern hills, it was met with heavy resistance by strong fans standing in front of the Warfield Theater. The
gates opened; the fog retreated. Gov't Mule had arrived. The John Butler
Trio got to work digging the trench for fans.

The John Butler Trio (on tour from Australia) moved the growing crowd from a
day's haze to a night's steadfast energy. John Butler's intense focus was
manifested through clever guitar work and provoking lyrics. Rory Quirk's
vivaciousness on bass played romping beats that complemented Butler's
profound presence. Jason McGann on drums grew the rhythm to match the
audience's increased enthusiasm. Contrary to their progressive folk sound
when they opened for Robert Randolph and The Family Band (Bimbo's in San
Francisco, April 5th); this night they stormed with audacious ruggedness.

After a brief break, Gov't Mule began to move the rock groove by immediately
marking their territory. Warren Haynes' guitar celerity comforted as much as kicked.
Governor of Girth, Dave Schools, stomped on bass in the wake of Hayne's mud trail. Matt Abts continues to write his own history on drums. Danny Louis'
accomplished dexterity on keys shined Gov't Mule's rock-n-raunchy sound. As
the country digests daily shifts in reality; it's nice to know there's one
band with a strong hand to help see us through.

They played most songs from their double CD, The Deep End, vol. 1. One of the
highlights showed a humorous side of the band as they hauled random audience
members onto the stage for "Thorazine Shuffle." The groovers improvised
their moves and shaked, baked, rattled and swerved while the band played.
"Soulshine" (which recently got some airplay on San Francisco's local radio
station, KFOG) solidified its position as a crowd pleaser. The first set
seemed to be played with an open air of solid expression. The second set
punctuated the band's talent of powerful composition and arrangement with
"Life Before Insanity" and "World of Confusion." Both also showcased
Hayne's gargantuan guitar sound and ability to be a strong yet compassionate
coordinator and leader. Cecil Peanut (Bay Area musician) joined with his
digi-saxophone on "Sco-Mule" moving a majority of the audience onto their
feet. Surprise encores, "Wild Horses" and "Creep" illustrated that Gov't
Mule isn't afraid to dive into large bodies of water.

According to Jason Newsted's comments in the most recent Rolling Stone
Magazine (issue 897) he is the new, self-appointed permanent bass player for
Gov't Mule. Tonight at the Warfield, in some sense, they played as a group
free to choose their own road. It is possible to wonder where the next road
will lead. Whatever the final decision is, it's time, Gov't Mule shall be
released.

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