On March 3rd, Durham’s Performing Arts Center was the site of a show that if you were fortunate enough to attend, will stand as one of the shows of your lifetime. If you are familiar with the Grateful Dead’s March 29th, 1990 show with Branford Marsalis; get that show roaming around your mind. If you are not familiar with the Grateful Dead’s March 29th, 1990 show with Branford Marsalis; stop reading this review, go where ever you have to go to find that show, give it several listens and then read this review. By doing so, you are going to get turned on to one of the Grateful Dead’s best shows of the 1990s or any other decade along with getting tuned in to what is happening with the most underrated band in music today; Gov't Mule.
Let us go to the set list. There are a few songs that will jump out at you immediately. The Band’s, The Shape I’m In, was an attention getter for certain. Warren Haynes has sincerity, tremolo and pop within his vocal range that is pretty much unmatched; especially for a virtuoso, lead guitarist. You will be hard pressed to find a guitarist in the history of rock and roll that does what Haynes can do with his lyrics, singing and playing. Following The Shape l’m In were Traffic’s Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and Dreams by the Allman Brothers. Other Allman’s tunes included in the evening were Instrumental Illness and Soulshine. Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey was sandwiched in between Soulshine.
The songs the Mule call their own were as ripe as a July peach with the three nobodys; Matt Abts on the drums, Jorgen Carlsson on the bass and Danny Louis on keys, guitar and horns; being in especially rare form. Being in especially rare form is nothing out of the ordinary for these fellows. After you download this show, check the opening songs of the first set. These songs being Lay Your Burden Down, Unring The Bell, Thorazine Shuffle and Captured. Caputured being one of the newer songs from the Mule catalog and available on their new album SHOUT! While you are downloading this Durham show you may as well go ahead and get the SHOUT! album. No point being half-assed about the Mule.
The jams that filled the Durham Performing Arts Center on a night like this cannot be put into words. Thanks in large part to John Scofield, who gets into such grooves that the notes he does not play stop you in your tracks just as well as the notes he does play. Throughout the night, Haynes and Marsalis just stepped to the side and let Scofield get loose. Scofield stepped up to go on runs and riffs that seemed to be cut off with nowhere to go including pauses that left listeners wondering what in the world was happening. “Is he playing?” “What song is this?” “Is the song over?” “When is Warren going to join back in?” Just at these times, Scofield would return to the melody and rhythm of the song in perfect time and tone. As John Scofield plays it may help to think of a sonic, psychedelic, soulful Slinkie that bounces and bounds at an unpredictably, pleasant pace whether going up the stairs, down the stairs or while it just sits still.
Download whatever Sco-Mule shows you can get your keyboard on and quick. Do not delay twenty-five days, much less twenty-five years-the March 29, 1990 show seems like yesterday yall-to enjoy this show. Don’t be thinking Sco-Mule tour is comprised of a wannabe, three nobodys and a buddy of Phil’s that Branford Marsalis bailed out in Durham. This show featured a group of six phenomenal musicians that bounced fluidly from jazz to space to powerfully driven plain old rock and roll standards like champions.
As for Warren Haynes being a “good” Southern guitarist, yall ain’t heard %$^& until he goes off on an electric bull horn solo. As for Matt Abts on the drums, l don’t know how many drummers have their drum sponsor create a line of cymbals just for them, with the formula for the cymbals kept in a safe, but l’m sure that is a short list. GOVERNMENT WHO?
1 Lay Your Burden Down
2 Unring The Bell
3 Thorazine Shuffle
5 Instrumental Illness > with John Scofield
6 Jeep On 35 > with John Scofield
7 Hottentot with John Scofield
1 The Shape I'm In > with John Scofield & Branford Marsalis
2 Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys > with John Scofield & Branford Marsalis
3 Dreams with John Scofield & Branford Marsalis
4 Mule >
5 I've Been Working >
6 Mule >
7 Soulshine >
8 Tupelo Honey >
1 Afro-Blue with John Scofield, Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo