Gov’t Mule: Bring On The Music – Live at The Capitol Theatre Review

Twenty-five years ago, Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and Matt Abts joined creative forces to fill the space between their duties for The Allman Brothers and affiliated acts. This side project, Gov’t Mule, quickly became their main artistic vehicle. Bring On The Music – Live at The Capitol Theatre commemorates these past two and a half decades with over two and a half hours of live music, carefully compiled from a pair of shows recorded over a pair of nights in Port Chester, New York. Haynes and company rock their way through an impassioned set of Gov’t Mule staples and a few covers, encompassing a variety of moods and styles while delivering one of their strongest live albums to date.

The collection is not a direct, chronological retracing of either of the two nights. It is a musical collage comprised of two to four song chunks, reassembled to deliver listeners a taste of the live, Gov’t Mule experience in an intimate venue. As such, the album feels like a greatest hits-type compilation, coupled with the energy and immediacy of a live performance. There are very few, if any, questionable song choices or weak moments.

“Traveling Tune, Pt.1” gently sets the scene with a tone of reminiscence and optimistic outlook. Singing about the passage of time, Haynes shares a softer side of his guitar work, highlighted by a shared solo, in unison with keyboardist, Danny Louis. “Railroad Boy” shifts the vibe into more familiar, live Mule territory, as the band amplifies both instruments and tone. Buoyed in part by Abts heavy and direct drumming, the bluesy piece leads into one of the best numbers of the selection, “Mule.” Haynes demands to know, “Where’s my mule? Where’s my forty acres?,” as a prelude to a long and colorful instrumental section. “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground,” another one of the five tracks over ten minutes, reiterates this musical mood with hard-edged playing and expressive soloing. Haynes earns a well deserved, shared writing credit for this reinvention of the Blind Willie Johnson instrumental.

The other two covers are also album highlights. With a title like, “Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother,” Grand Funk Railroad’s rocker is a song ripe for Gov’t Mule’s straightforward interpretation. Bring On The Music also contains the band’s soulful concert debut of Pearl Jam’s “Come Back.” The outro on “Drawn That Way” echoes that of Hendrix’s “Angel” and Jimi’s influence also seeps into the spacey, organ-driven intro of “The Man That I Want To Be.” The musical allusions continue with “Funny Little Tragedy,” as Jorgen Carlsson’s funky bass drives the Gov’t Mule original forward and through its artful shift into “Message in a Bottle.”

“Time To Confess,” and the pairing of “Life Before Insanity” and “Thorns of Life” are just a few more standout sections on an album filled with some of the band’s best playing. The tunes are diverse in topic, tempo and tone and each member gets a chance in the spotlight. Haynes’s legendary guitar playing commands much of the instrumental focus and he doesn’t disappoint, varying his sounds and technique throughout the collection. When given a chance on “Revolution Come, Revolution Go,” Lewis and Abts make the most of their time with a surprising trombone interlude and crushing drum solo respectively.

All of this coalesces into a lengthy double album that can be enjoyed cover to cover – from “Traveling Tune, Pt.1” straight through to “Traveling Tune, Pt.2,” the album closer. Bring On The Music – Live at The Capitol Theatre contains some of the band’s best recent work and should be eagerly received by longtime fans. It is also a good option for those not familiar with Gov’t Mule. So, as the titular song goes, “Bring on the music, everything will be alright.”

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Mule
– Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
– Revolution Come, Revolution Go
– Time To Confess
– Come Back
– Bring on The Music

The Big Hit

– Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

Review by Willie Witten

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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One Response to “Gov’t Mule: Bring On The Music – Live at The Capitol Theatre Review”

  1. Clive says:

    Gov’t Mule review

    Maybe your reviewer could have made it clear that the majority of the tracks he wrote about are on the accompanying DVD’s

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