Whilst the rest of the UK is sat at home watching the Eurovision Song Contest, rock fans from around the country descended upon the idyllic West Yorkshire town of Holmfirth to witness Gov’t Mule perform live.

This is the first time that Gov’t Mule have played in Holmfirth and it’s no surprise that the show sold out on the very day tickets were released.

Warren Haynes’ career speaks for itself, having witnessed great success with Gov’t Mule, as a solo artist, and his 25-year stint with The Allman Brothers Band all the while performing in various guises with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead. That’s just to name but a few of his musical projects.

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. Instead, each show is a unique experience that represents a tour de force of musical showmanship and stamina.

The old analogy, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get”; the same applies to a Gov’t Mule show. That enigma is part of the draw for their fans. Will the band perform their favorite track tonight? Who knows. Members of the audience queuing outside the venue all speculate on the band’s setlist this evening.

As Haynes and Co. take the stage, they embark upon a magical mystery tour of their back catalog, digging deep into their songbook which represents around 300 tracks. Gov’t Mule opens their set with the rocking “Mr. Man” and “Mr. High and Mighty.”

Throughout the set, Gov’t Mule draws from a diverse array of musical styles and influences. Although often pigeon-holed as southern rock, the band are genre defying. Besides the obvious, their set includes tracks with dub reggae undertones like “Unring The Bell” and their bass-heavy take on soul man Al Green’s “I Am Ram,” which also features a few bars of The Beatles “Love Me Do.” On the other hand, their monumental instrumental jam, “Devil Likes It Slow,” would probably work equally as well in a jazz club.

This is not just any band; this is a world-class ensemble of musicians, each working together in perfect harmony. Warren Haynes dedicates the funky “No Reward” to Glenn Hughes, who of course performed on the track as part of Gov’t Mule’s collaborative album, Shout!.

The crowd claps in unison as Jorgen Carlsson plays the unmistakable bass intro to “Thorazine Shuffle.” As the song unravels, each member of the group gets their moment to shine. As Gov’t Mule comes towards the end of their set, they up the tempo with the hard rocking “Drivin’ Rain,” a track which was once recorded with Metallica’s James Hetfield.

Gov’t Mule is well renowned for having guests sit in during their set, and tonight is no exception to that rule. For the encore, the legendary Bernie Marsden joins the band onstage for the remainder of the show to jam out a few blues numbers. These include the classic “Need Your Love So Bad” by Little Willie John and “Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City” by Bobby “Blue” Bland. The latter is a song close to Marsden’s heart from his days with Whitesnake; the audience hangs on every word as they sing along.

Today marks the first anniversary of BB King’s passing and the band performs a fitting tribute with a spellbinding rendition of “The Thrill Is Gone” with Marsden and Haynes playing off each other. Keyboard player Danny Louis also takes a solo. It’s enough to set the hairs on the back of your neck standing and it leaves the audience wanting more. But the band isn’t done yet as they return to the stage to take a second encore closing out the night in style with a superb cover of “Wishing Well” by Free.

Tonight Gov’t Mule performed a two and a half hour musical extravaganza where no stone was left unturned. Warren Haynes will be returning to both the UK and Holmfirth in July with his solo band in support of his latest album, Ashes and Dust.

Gov’t Mule
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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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