After four Jazz Festifilled days of full frontal lobe assault by a never-ending wall of sound, my synapses are still spewing the most visuals from the Orpheum Gov't Mule Show. This show rivaled any Broadway Play or Vegas Extravaganja for pure theater, but instead of Barbra wringing standards and showtunes out of her diaphragm, I felt the fury of four warlocks flawlessly pounding the fuck out of an FM Classic Rock playlist.
A light show bordering on evil turned this rarely used relic of theater into a steamy gothic opera house. The floor was transfixed on the two larger than life figures standing in the foreground. Dave Schools [bassist, Widespread Panic] made full on nodding eye contact all night long with many a man and woman rhythmically pulsating to the crisp tribal bottom he reinvented for this tour. Warren Haynes, well fed from the late lunch I bought him at Mothers, has been so perfect this whole year I almost took his perfection for granted, until his encore, Radiohead's "Creep". When he sang the falsetto chorus of that song in his regular voice without an ounce of irony or hubris, I knew I was witnessing one of rock's finest moments.
This was the first Mule show for a lot of the krewe, and first timers are often unable to distinguish songs from one another. Not the case this night. The rebellious "Mule"... the psychedelic "Tomorrow Never Knows"...the Dionysian "Feelin' Alright"...the epic "Soulshine"... the sublime "Compared to What?" ... the all American rocker "Goin' Out West". Every jam seemed to turn into a four way blitzkrieg solo, a boiling pot of four totally different ingredients that just happened to smell absolutely delicious.
I witnessed the third "Low Spark" I've seen by three different bands in the last few months and I have to say that of Panic with Karl Denson, Phil & Friends, and Mule, this version was the most musical, the one with a message which transcended the music and lyrics. The bald dude from moe. [Al Schnier] guested on a long, raucous, guitar solo during Feelin' Alright reminiscent of Eddie Van Halen or even Brian May, shocking me into actually considering catching moe.'s Summerstage gig.
Matt Abts drumming got everybody grooving into a frenzy, but it was Chuck Leavell's bouncy keys that made every smiling face boogie. And that power grooving boogie frenzy po-boy is still repeating on me.
What Is Hip?
Who Do You Love?
Tomorrow Never Knows
Madman Across the Water
World Gone Wild