US-based jam band Gov’t Mule makes a rare appearance on Tyneside, as part of one of their most extensive UK tours in recent times.

You would have to look back to 2005 for Warren Haynes and company’s last visit to the North East when they played a show at the Newcastle City Hall. As an incredibly creative outfit, the quartet has gone on to release almost a dozen studio albums since that time. So when the announcement of the band’s imminent return to the city was made on social media, there was a palpable excitement in the air amongst Newcastle’s blues/roots and southern rock enthusiasts.

It goes without saying that each Gov’t Mule concert is very much a unique experience. The band aim to rotate the majority of their setlist each evening. By adopting this approach the group not only keeps their shows interesting for themselves, but also for their fans, many of whom attend multiple dates on a tour.

Gov’t Mule doesn’t necessarily conform to the rules. They are not going to show up and play a review of their greatest and latest material. Each setlist is tailored towards the show in question. So quite literally you never know what you are going to get.

This evening’s concert at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle is very much a show of two halves. With daylight pouring in through the vast skylight in the ceiling the first set is very much the appetiser. With the band essentially supporting themselves, Gov’t Mule eases the Geordies into the show during their first 60-minute set. A bluesy airing of “Hammer and Nail”, the incredibly infectious “Stone Cold Rage” and the building “Drawn That Way” all featuring at the top of the evening.

A jammed-out airing of “Slackjaw” is the centrepiece of the opening set. This song is the perfect representation of what Gov’t Mule is all about. As a quartet, they are so tight and have such a good read on one another that it gives each of these incredibly talented artists the freedom to really jam. Warren Haynes blistering fretwork is simply a joy to behold, during the latter stages of the track he even injects a few bars of Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” to great effect. The first 60 minutes of the evening certainly whet the crowd’s appetite for more of what is to come.

As the daylight starts to disappear, the ambience in the room changes as day becomes night. It’s now time for the Dark Side of the Mule, which is very much the main course of tonight’s musical feast.

As the group returns to the stage, they give a healthy nod to some of the North East based musicians that have inspired them with by way of a spellbinding rendition of Free and Paul Rodgers “I’ll Be Creepin’” which is quickly followed by a tribute to local lads The Animals with “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. Mule put their own unique stamp on each of these timeless classics.

This week marks the second anniversary of the passing of Gregg Allman. And as a fitting tribute to Warren Haynes former bandmate, a beautiful airing of The Allman Brothers “Soulshine” is one of the many highlights of the show.

The second set features a whole raft of Gov’t Mule classics including the likes of “Where’s My Mule”, the thunderous “Broke Down on the Brazos” and the reggae-tinged “Time To Confess”. The latter of which illustrating the vast musical landscape which the group covers in both their studio work and their live sets.

Gov’t Mule closes out their main set with a pair of Humble Pie covers in the shape of “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and “Thirty Days In The Hole”. One line in particular in the latter “Newcastle Brown Sure Smacks You Down” winning many a cheer from the locals.

Tonight Gov’t Mule perform a two and a half hour musical extravaganza where no stone is left unturned. It may have taken the band fourteen years to return to Newcastle, but it was certainly worth the wait.

Gov’t Mule
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Event Date: 28-May-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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