Last week, Gov’t Mule opened the 2017 season of the City Park’s Foundation of SummerStage. The show included a perfect blend of Gov’t Mule classics and specific previews of the collective’s upcoming tenth studio album, Revolution Come…Revolution Go — out June 9th. The May 17th show, of course, featured the necessary elements to acknowledge the coming of this summer, Summerstage, and jovial musical vibes: guest performances with Chris Robinson and Bruce Willis; blues-drenched solos with hints of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”; and music that unites folks with an equally lighthearted and meditative setlist.
Gov’t Mule opened with “World Boss,” a blues and hard rock cut off of Shout!. The set recalled other classics in the Gov’t Mule discography — including “Brand New Angel” and “Birth of the Mule” — as well as the new single, “Stone Cold Rage,” before launching into two new cuts off of Revolution Come…Revolution Go.
“Sarah, Surrender” and “Traveling Tune” introduced concertgoers to the band’s current trajectory, interests, and contemplations in music. “Sarah, Surrender” is a playful addition to the band’s setlist, oscillating between jazz rock and blues pop. Both in the studio and on the stage, “Sarah, Surrender,” sounds like a dream collaboration between Steely Dan (during the Aja era) and one of Gov’t Mule’s mother bands, the Allman Brothers Band.
“Traveling Tune,” on the other hand, felt more existential. Recalling the band’s classic “Soulshine,” “Traveling Tune” marks the imperative, yet important, end of one moment in the scheme of a life. “Just another highway song/Just another traveling tune,” Warren Hayes. His voice dripped with nostalgia and reserve on this track. The audience, in turn, responded with the same kind of reflection: eyes wide; body swaying slightly; drinks or lovers in hand.
Gov’t Mule welcomed Bruce Willis on the set for a performance of the blues standard, “Keys to the Highway.” The stomping blues burner featured Willis on harmonica. The comforts of blues — the chordal power; intimate phrasing on the lead guitars; soaring vocals — coupled Willis’s powerful harmonia referenced the play and musical prowess of Howlin’ Wolf.
Gov’t Mule will continue their tour in support of Revolution Come…Revolution dates in North America and Europe. The SummerStage festival, in turn, will continue to entertain and support New Yorkers with upcoming performances from artists like Elvis Costello, Digable Planets, and Jadakiss. For more information on this summer’s set, check this for a collection of dates, times, and artist bills.
*The 2017 SummerStage festival is presented by Capital One Bank. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Brewery Ommegang, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Austin Eastciders, Disney, Sprint, Boost Mobile, Electric Sky Wine, Hint Water and Deep River Snacks, are all official SummerStage sponsors. Generous private support is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Horace Silver Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Shubert Organization, and the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.
Article: Pam Segura
Photos: Shayne Hanley