01.06.15 Gov’t Mule Rings in 2015 With AC/DC Set at Beacon Theatre Run (Glide Magazine Show Review)
Gov’t Mule refuses to allow itself to become predictable. Even as the quartet continues an over decade-long tradition of New Year’s runs in New York and Philadelphia, the two nights at The Beacon Theatre in found Warren Haynes and co. looking and moving forward, using the past as touch-points for progress.
Cover material and guest musicians are a given at any Gov’t Mule show in New York and the night of December 30 was no exception, but the real surprise of the night might as well have been the prominence of material from Gov’t Mule’s last studio album Shout. “World Boss Is Coming,” “Whisper In Your Soul,“ “Stoop So Low” and “Forsake n Savior” all reaffirmed the impression left with the 2013 record and subsequent live renditions. The latest originals of the group are of a piece with the band’s vintage tunes, the likes of which did not turn up til late in this evening’s second set.
And even then “Gameface” (with teases of Weather Report’s “Birdland” and ABB’s “Mountain Jam”) and a thrashing “Thorazine Shuffle” were juxtaposed with “Funny Little Tragedy,” which, with its coda of “Message in a Bottle” is turning into a rousing set closer, here all the more so as the Police reference hearkened back to covers alternately startling and moving earlier on. The Mule loves its reggae, but who would’ve guessed they’d arrange Steve Miller’s “The Joker” in Jamaican style (though a quick tease of Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up” was not so much of a surprise). Or, given that New Year’s 2012, Gov’t Mule covered Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen in its entirety, Haynes would reference that occasion by way of introducing two of the recently deceased British soulman’s tunes
But Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” has to be one of Cocker’s lesser-known interpretations–though it may be his most openly vulnerable one–while “The Letter,” second only in familiarity to the Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends,” made for an ideal set closer, albeit a somewhat odd piece of pacing. Given that fusion drummer Billy Cobham’s “Stratus,” strategically positioned at mid-point of the set, was the only extended jam of the evening, another slice of familiar Mule would’ve changed the impact of the first hour plus, the night as a whole night and, given the logic this group prefers to impart to their performances, the two-nights overall.
Additional latter day Mule tunes including Shout’s “Done Got Wise” and By A Thread’s “Broken Down On the Brazos” led to the other high points of this show. Drummer Simon Kirke, of Free and Bad Company fame, gleefully bashed away at Matt Abts’ drums for the former’s “Mr. Big” as well as the British band’s cover of Albert King’s “The Hunter.” Returning from last year’s New Year at the Broadway venue, drummer Carmine Appice guested for an absolutely uproarious encore of Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs” plus Faces’ “Stay With Me,” the first given extra cache as the former Vanilla Fudge and Beck, Bogert & Appice member played with one of The Mod’s solo backing groups.