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July 18, 2010

Concert review: Gov't Mule & Cold War Kids at Artscape

warren haynes is the front man of gov't mule. here, he kinda looks  like a zombie. or maybe he's about to consume the microphone.Two songs into Gov't Mule's set at last night's Artscape, bassist Jorgen Carlsson's amp started crackling.

The four-piece paused for a minute while the roadies swapped it out, and then resumed the song, "Steppin' Lightly."

"We're not going to let a little technical difficulty stand in the way of a good time this evening," front man Warren Haynes said.

They didn't.

What followed was just what you'd expect from the acclaimed jammers -- more than an hour and a half of thick riffs, searing solos and Southern rock songs. In short, it was good time music from a bunch of good ol' boys ...

Haynes' big paws and big frame can make any guitar seem half its normal size. His singing voice is a grizzled growl which barrels out of his (sizable) gut. He's been all over the jam scene, from the Allman Brothers to The Dead, and knows how to pair the right solo with the right song. Nearly every tune last night had a guitar solo at some point, but none of it seemed too gratuitous or repetitive -- a rare feat in their genre. 

The 12-song show had a handful of tracks from the band's most recent album, "By a Thread": Carlsson kicked off "Broke Down on the Brazos" with a snarly bass line; Haynes strapped on a 12-string electric for "Railroad Boy."

Though Gov't Mule has more than enough original material, the band's performances usually have a few cover tunes here and there. Last night, they slipped two Led Zeppelin tracks, "D'Yer Maker" and "Whole Lotta Love," in the middle of Gov't Mule songs. Haynes also spliced "Beautifully Broken" with a downbeat cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry."

Drummer Matt Abts was riding the cowbell and everybody traded solos for the '70s stoner jam "Thorazine Shuffle," a highpoint of the night. The set ended with the inevitable "Soulshine," Gov't Mule's feelgood anthem.

Since no Gov't Mule concert is complete without at least one special guest, Washington saxophonist Ron Holloway sat in on a fiery rendition of Robert Johnson's "32-20 Blues" and singer Jackie Greene, who had performed earlier in the day, joined the band for an encore of the Grateful Dead's "Sugaree." Holloway, Greene and Gov't Mule closed out the satisfying show a hair past 10 p.m.

cold war kidsAn hour before Gov't Mule went on, California indie rockers Cold War Kids got things warmed up on the Wachovia stage with some heavy, plodding beats. Singer Nathan Willett's voice, which can border on unremarkable on the band's albums, was much more energized in person.

Willett attacked his songs with a detached determination, and the other three players had the smoldering grooves on lock. Willett banged on a keyboard during "Hang Me Out to Dry," a song that was almost too slow to dance to. Almost. Their 40-minute, 10-song set ended with the poignant "We Used to Vacation." 

(At top, AP photo of Gov't Mule front man Warren Haynes. Bottom, photo of Cold War Kids by Mike Hallock.)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:54 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Concert reviews
        

Comments

Very well worded review.

It's a shame that Cold War Kids were forced to play such a short set. Jackie Green played until 6:30 (when they were supposed to start) and they commented that they were forced to stop due to the "rules" which I'm assuming would allow Gov't Mule to be ready at 8:00.

MULE!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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