Gov’t Mule brought their Smokin’ Mule Tour to the beautiful Vina Robles Amphitheatre on Sunday night (August 28) and it truly was a night to remember. Upon arrival, it was announced that it was going to be a general admission show, meaning everyone had access to the floor section and had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the amazing music ready to be delivered on this night. Obviously The Mule has some seriously dedicated fans, and that announcement made everyone even more jacked up, excited and ready to get into the night.
Sometimes there are shows that you leave saying, “That was really great,” and then there are those shows that make you feel fully connected with the music, that from beginning to end you are completely and totally into the experience. A show that you will think about in the days to follow, relive, and understand that you will be seeing this band every time they roll through town. This Gov’t Mule show truly was one of those nights of music.
I was ready to see opening act Blackberry Smoke for the first time, as I had missed them in a prior headlining show on the Central Coast at the Chumash Casino Resort this past April. There really couldn’t be a better pairing for an opener with Mule than Blackberry Smoke. From start to finish the boys from Atlanta delivered their fantastic blend of Rock, Country, Bluegrass, Gospel and R&B. With influences all over the board, their appeal (just as Gov’t Mule’s) hits all different kinds of music lovers. I saw people with a Volbeat shirts on, a Pantera hat, tatoos, cowboy hats and denim, and plenty of tie-dye and flowing skirts. Positive vibes flowed throughout the house and besides the Smoke onstage, I smelled some other smoke in the air as well, and I suppose it probably was a Blackberry Kush, helping blend in with that other rockin’ Smoke. The talented band consists of Charlie Starr (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals) and Brandon Still (keyboards). All of their releases were well represented in the set, with the opening track ‘Fire in the Hole,’ from the ‘Holding All the Roses’ 2015 release, followed by ‘Six Ways to Sunday’ from 2012’s ‘The Whippoorwill’ and cuts from 2009’s ‘Little Piece of Dixie’ and their EP ‘Wood, Wire & Roses.’ Blackberry Smoke rocked some new tracks from their upcoming album ‘Like An Arrow’ as well, which you can pre-order now at www.blackberrysmoke.com.
The guys even threw in some Zeppelin with an awesome cover of ‘You Time Is Gonna Come’ and an amazing rendition of Black Sabbath’s ‘Fairies Were Boots.’ Really glad I had an opportunity to see this band and it won’t be the last time.
Blackberry Smoke set list:
1. Fire in the Hole
2. Six Ways to Sunday
3. Let Me Help You (Find the Door)
4. Rollin’ and Tumblin’ / Rock and Roll Again
5. Good One Comin’ On
6. Sanctified Woman
7. Sleeping Dogs / Your Time Is Gonna Come (Led Zeppelin cover)
8. Ain’t Got the Blues
9. Waiting for the Thunder
10. Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath cover)
11. Ain’t Much Left of Me
The party vibe was in full effect after the Blackberry Smoke set, as everyone in the house was ready for the great Warren Hayes and Gov’t Mule. Hayes formed the band while still in the Allman Brothers back in 1994, and they are truly one of the definitive and extremely talented jam bands in the business. You name the artist, Warren has probably jammed with them at some point. The list is endless as is this legendary American guitarist’s talent.
The band hit the stage with an amazing rendition of ‘World Boss,’ continuing into ‘Lay Your Burden Down,’ ‘Steppin’ Lightly’ and ‘World Of Difference.’ That was followed by some great covers, including The Band’s ‘The Shape I’m In,’ Bob Marley’s ‘Lively Up Yourself’ and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Long As I Can See the Light’ wrapped around the band’s ‘Temporary Saint.’
The musicianship could just not get any better, with original band member Matt Abts on the drums, the amazing Danny Louis on guitar and keys and Jorgen Carlsson bringing the Swedish Bass fuel for the Mule.
After the CCR cover, Jimmy Kimmel Live guitar player Yoshi Yanagi came out to join the band for a truly next level version of ‘Sco-Mule,’ trading riffs with Warren and just blowing everyone away. This is what I’m talking about when I say some shows are great and others are just so fantastic you are awestruck. It was just amazing.
The band wasn’t nearly done with their over 2 1/2 hour set, continuing with ‘Monday Morning Countdown,’ followed by ‘Frozen Fear’ that included an interlude of Led Zeppelin’s ‘D’yer Maker.’ That was the first of two Zep tunes Mule jammed on this night, later tossing in ‘Whole Lotta Love’ with Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love’ during ‘Mule.’
The evening concluded with Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr joining in on the encore (as he has every night on this tour) for versions of Bob Dylan’s ‘It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry,’ which was the first time they have played that together, and Bob Seger’s ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,’ with a little signature jam of Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ tossed in for good measure. After feeling the positive vibes on the floor for most all of the show, a friend who attended with me and I watched the Dylan/Seger encore from a couple of levels up when one of the hospitable concessionaire’s from the venue came walking around with a huge platter of baked goods, giving them out to anyone who wanted them. I grabbed a bacon maple twist and a couple of cookies to chow down on while the show wrapped up, feeling the contact high from not only what was in the air, but from the wrap up of one hell of a night of just amazing music. Truly a night to remember.
1. World Boss
2. Lay Your Burden Down
3. Steppin’ Lightly
4. World Of Difference
5. The Shape I’m In (The Band cover)
6. Lively Up Yourself (Bob Marley cover)
7. Temporary Saint
8. Long As I Can See The Light (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
9. Sco-Mule (with Toshi Yanagi)
10. Monday Mourning Meltdown
11. Frozen Fear/D’yer Mak’er (Led Zep cover)/Frozen Fear
12. King’s Highway/K.H. Jam
13. When The World Gets Small
14. Slackjaw Jezebel
15. Mule (with Les Brers In A Minor tease)/Who Do You Love?/Whole Lotta Love/Who Do You Love?/Mule
16. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Bob Dylan cover with Charlie Starr; first time played)
17. Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man/Mississippi Queen tease (Bob Seger/Mountain cover with Charlie Starr)
For more photos from the show check out Marshall of Rock on Facebook.
For all Gov’t Mule news and upcoming tour dates, hit mule.net
For all upcoming shows at the beautiful Vina Robles Amphitheatre, check out vinaroblesamphitheatre.com
Special Thanks to Vanessa Kromer and Jennifer Anderson of Nederlander