Gov’t Mule, The National, Richmond, VA- 10/22
Photo by Heath Robson
Warren Haynes is known for putting in more man hours behind a guitar/microphone than most could undergo. Through that time on stage, he works alongside a list of artists and shifting bands. In Gov’t Mule, Haynes shoulders a pack that is bursting with years of both road-tested expertise and an undeniable penchant for remaining musically relevant and creative. There are few bands that get me excited the way Gov’t Mule consistently does, and I’ve yet to be disappointed by a meeting.
Their latest stop in Richmond, Virginia was no less impressive than any other. After a lively set by The Lee Boys, heavy on the steel, Gov’t Mule was blessed by a brimming house. A full room on a Monday night (also, the night of this election cycle’s final presidential debate) is far from guaranteed, but Virginia’s loyal made the trek for a piece of Gov’t Mule’s rare cargo. Touring on news of a new studio release (By a Thread), the night offered bits of the past and the present, all braided among the magic this four piece consistently shoulders.
Both sets featured songs from By a Thread, giving the audience the chance to dance to “Railroad Boy” and “Broke Down on the Brazos.” For the uninitiated, the merging of years of music would have been seamless; for longtime fans, it was great to know that Gov’t Mule has plenty of life in it. The rest of the night showcased music from across the band’s catalogue. The gritty “Wandering Child,” the crowd-pleasing “Bad Little Doggie,” the confident strut of “Streamline Woman,” and the blues-rock infused “Thelonious Beck” stood out amongst the rest.
The two part encore included covers of Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do,” featuring Rosevelt Collier (Lee Boys) and the equally hard-playing Ron Holloway (appearing throughout the night) on sax, before Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” ended the night. As “Spanish Moon” wrapped up, Haynes and the rest of the team led the crowd in a clap along (over Holloway’s continuing sax) before exiting the stage, leaving Holloway to riff away to the joy of the audience.