photo by Larson Sutton


Gov’t Mule has spent the better part of its nearly three decades together blending its own blues-inspired bulk with a barrage of other inspirations.  A Monday night stop at The Belasco in downtown Los Angeles was no exception.  The veteran quartet, led by the workaholic guitarist and singer Warren Haynes, split an 18-song, two-set, 150-minute performance, once again, between career-spanning originals and myriad covers, and welcomed an old friend for an emotional, high-voltage finale.

Heavy and about the get heavier, the Mule kicked first with “Stone Cold Rage,” as Haynes peeled off one fluid, overdriven run after another, buttressed by bassist Jorgen Carlsson’s rolling thunder.  The opener portended a great night; the group perhaps rewarding the Monday crowd for coming out, or happy to stretch after brief Outlaw Festival slots over the weekend, or both.  No matter, Haynes was loose and aggressive, pushing the needle with “Fool’s Moon,” and a “Game Face” that bled into and out of a blissfully burning nod to The Allman Brothers Band’s “Mountain Jam,” highlighted by multi-instrumentalist Danny Louis’ combustible keyboard work.

The four leaned on their roots for a preview of their upcoming release, late in the first stanza dropping “If Heartaches Were Nickels” and the Howln’ Wolf cover, “I Asked Her for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)”- this final pair the show’s only cuts from Mule’s forthcoming, Heavy Load Blues.  After a short break, the foursome returned, opening the second-half with a sharpened “Revolution Come, Revolution Go,” that slid into the circulating “Thorazine Shuffle” and its showcase for drummer Matt Abts’ impressive rhythmic rudiments.  “Pressure Under Fire” sat between The Beatles’ “She Said She Said/Tomorrow Never Knows” and Bob Marley and The Wailers’ “Lively Up Yourself,” as the latter erupted into one of the evening’s best jams, then cooled back to its reggae core.

Haynes then welcomed singer Beth Hart to the stage for a ferocious take on Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” then paused as Hart, brought to near tears, told of the healing value Haynes’ “Soulshine” provided her through recent struggles.  With that Hart delivered an impassioned rendition of The Allman Brothers Band gem, only to ramp up her sexualized liberation on a set-closing “Whole Lotta Love,” as the singer writhed and wailed through the Led Zeppelin classic.  A quick encore of Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West” finished as the audience sang the band off the stage, off to a date in Northern California, and a lesson from the Mule: never miss a Monday show.