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Gov’t Mule, Ives Concert Park, Danbury, CT- 6/2

Photo by Heath Robson

Take a tip from me, when you remember the umbrella it’ll be a beautiful night. On this evening, Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule played two powerhouse sets at Danbury’s Ives Concert Park, one of the most spectacular outdoor concert settings in the state. As always, Haynes possesses unerring taste in covers, and The Band’s “The Shape I’m In” was given added poignancy with Levon Helm’s recent passing. Haynes participated in a mammoth charity concert last fall to save Levon’s barn and keep it as a live music refuge. Nicki Bluhm, who opened the show with her band the Gramblers, provided backing vocals for Ray Charles’ “I’ll Drown In My Own Tears.”

The crowd was jumping around as “Streamline Woman” segued into Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Many More Years,” here bearing more than a little resemblance to Led Zeppelin’s version. This and songs like “Time To Confess” offered a vivid display of Haynes’ barbed-wire voice. Then on “Broke Down On The Brazos”, their meat-and-potatoes blues rock was given a dash of magic mushrooms. Songs like “Banks of The Deep End” and “Hammer and Nails” were a reminder that for Haynes and company, the quest for spirituality is as important as hittin’ the note.

Warren Haynes plays live so often and with such high-caliber musicians that seemingly any music with roots is taken in stride. Soul? Blues? Rock? No problem, and whatever boat they’re riding, Matt Abts has the anchor. During the Mule’s take on Traffic’s “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” Bill Evans sax swooped in and out while Haynes rode one solo after another, both soaring. A Traffic jam also provided the night’s coda: “Sad and Deep As You.” Not a drop of rain and more than two-and-a-half hours of a mature band hitting its stride. A Mule worth catching.

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