After covering Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” on December 30 at the Beacon Theatre, on New Year’s Eve the group delivered a performance that sampled songs from the 1969 festival. The Mule’s first set opened with “Bad Little Doggie” and focused almost exclusively on the group’s original music. The exception (and one of the highlights) was the move from “Mule” into Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and back into “Mule,” which closed out the initial set.
Set two then opened with an iconic Woodstock cover, a version of Richie Havens’ “Freedom.” This song featured a duo with Warren Haynes joined by guest percussionist (and fellow Allman Brothers Band member) Marc Quinones. The ABB musician appeared on and off over the second and third sets and made strong contributions to songs that Santana originally performed at Woodstock: ”Savior,” “Jingo” and “Soul Sacrifice.” Dana Fuchs added guest vocals over the course of the evening, with her strongest moments during a Janis Joplin section that presented “Piece Of My Heart” and “Ball and Chain.” A nod to Joe Cocker led the music into midnight as “Delta Lady” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” preceded “With A Little Help From My Friends” which included the New Year’s Eve countdown. A nod to Sly & The Family Stone then followed (“Dance To The Music,” “Music Lover” and “I Want To Take You Higher”) with a horn section that included: Buford Osullivan (trombone), Pam Fleming (trumpet) and Jenny Hill (sax).
The third set then continued this theme. Drummer Matt Abts opened the action by himself with a version of the Country Joe & the Fish’s “Fish Cheer.” His bandmates then joined him for the Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star.” Then the Mule ran through material originally performed at Woodstock by Jefferson Airplane (“Somebody To Love”), Credence Clearwater Revival (“I Put A Spell On You”), Johnny Winter (“Mean Mistreater”), The Band (“Baby Don’t Do It”), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (“Helplessly Hoping”) and The Who (“I’m Free” > “Listening To You”). Gov’t Mule encored Jimi Hendrix-style with “Star Spangled Banner” followed by “Purple Haze.”