'Who's Next' in Boston this summer? Gov’t Mule

Gov’t Mule will be performing one long (2½ hours) set that includes some of their music and selected tunes from Pink Floyd’s iconic “Dark Side of the Moon” album during its upcoming Boston concert at Leader Bank Pavilion.
Gov’t Mule will be performing one long (2½ hours) set that includes some of their music and selected tunes from Pink Floyd’s iconic “Dark Side of the Moon” album during its upcoming Boston concert at Leader Bank Pavilion.

One of the best things about Gov’t Mule is that the musicians are all omnivorous music fans, so inspiration, and a surprise cover song, might come from anywhere. There was that legendary 2010 night when they opened an Oakland, California, concert by playing the entire "Who’s Next" album, and that 2014 show where they did a whole set of AC/DC tunes. This summer’s “Dark Side of the Mule” tour continues that tradition, and it has a unique Boston tie.

Gov’t Mule will be performing one long (2½ hours) set that includes some of their music and selected tunes from Pink Floyd’s iconic “Dark Side of the Moon” album. This whole idea came from a 2008 concert at Boston’s Orpheum Theater, when the Mule did that album in its entirety, before doing their own set. Fans loved the results and there’s been kind of a clamor to do it again. Gov’t Mule leader and guitarist Warren Haynes has said this summer’s tour will be the last time they reprise that classic record.

On some dates, Gov’t Mule can do an entire Floyd set, and then do their normal set of their own music, including tunes from their latest album, “Peace ... Like A River,” just released June 16 on Fantasy Records. That won’t be possible on Aug. 18 in Boston, where the show will be opened by Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening, where the son of the late Led Zep drummer does his interpretation of those classics. (Leader Bank Pavilion is located at 290 Northern Ave. in Boston, and the Aug. 18 show begins at 7 p.m., tickets are priced from $57-$175.75, available through LiveNation.com)

One long set

“We’ll be doing one, big, long set in Boston, instead of two equivalent sets,” Haynes explained from an Indianapolis tour stop last week. “The biggest difference there is that we won’t be taking a break. The Pink Floyd tunes we do vary every night, but not nearly as much as our own sets do. The size of the band doubles for the Pink Floyd numbers, and we’ve stepped up our production with lights and laser shows. This will be the last time we do that music, but with the 50th anniversary of the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album, it seemed like the right time.”

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“This whole Pink Floyd thing done by us started in 2008 at a Halloween show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston,” Haynes noted. “We had no intention then of continuing to do it. We just have a tradition of doing crazy, thematic Halloween shows every year. But the audience really responded, and demanded we release the recording of that night.”

For the enhanced band, multi-instrumentalist and singer Jackie Greene, saxophonist Ron Holloway, and two backup vocalists join the fun. Haynes was determined if they did the Floyd songs again, they would make sure to do it with as much flair and musical depth as the original.

An early influence

"‘Dark Side’ was the first Pink Floyd album I ever had, when I was about 13,” said Haynes. “I became a big fan, the same way I became a big fan of all the other rock bands back then, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin. It was a lot of work to put this music together and rehearse it. Song-by-song we had to redraw the line, how close to the original versus how to make it our own version. That music is so timeless, and fans love it so much, that we also try to choose Mule songs that work best in conjunction with them.”

Haynes is perhaps best-known as part of the Allman Brothers Band, which he joined to form the twin guitar attack with Dickey Betts in 1989. Haynes formed Gov’t Mule, with drummer Matt Abts and bassist Allen Woody, as a side project to reflect his love of power trio rock in 1994, leaving the ABB to concentrate on the trio in 1997. When Betts left the Allman Brothers Band in 2000, Haynes returned to form the two-guitar front with Derek Trucks (who is married to Norwell’s Susan Tedeschi). Haynes stayed with the ABB until its conclusion in 2014, while also recording with Mule and turning out a couple solo albums and various other projects.

A trio expands

Gov’t Mule expanded beyond the trio format in 2003 with the addition of keyboardist Danny Louis. Abts is still the dynamo on drums, while Keith Scott is the current bassist. The latest album is their 12th studio album, and they have 11 live albums out as well. Last year’s “Heavy Load Blues” album earned Gov’t Mule a Grammy nomination. The latest album is a fine example of Gov’t Mule expanding its musical palette, through both multiple styles and several guests. Thematically “Peace ... Like A River” and its songs are built around the idea of unity and bringing people together.

Same As It Ever Was” and “Gone Too Long” will be savored by longtime fans of Gov’t Mule, for their blues-drenched rock dynamics and smart soloing. Guitar ace Billy F. Gibbons guests on “Shake Our Way Out,” and that tune is surely a visceral reflection of Z.Z. Top’s influence. “Made My Peace,” the first single, was inspired by The Beatles, and if feels like something from the "Abbey Road" or perhaps "White Album" era, a densely layered piece that rocks out wonderfully and ends with some Mule-style jamming.

Ivan Neville and Ruthie Foster guest on the steamy soul tune “Dreaming Out Loud,” where amid the horn-fired arrangement the Haynes, Neville and Foster trade verses. And on “Peace I Need” the potent blues-rock suggests another big Gov’t Mule influence was Cream, as Haynes’ psychedelic guitar shines.

A positive message

“I didn’t want this album to go off into Covid-centric downbeat space,” said Haynes. “It can be easy to focus on the negative, but I wanted to concisely write about different aspects of our life since then. There is soul-searching, mending personal relationships, and a sense of coming out stronger on the other side. I think this record has an overall positive message, and seeking unity is certainly part of it.”

“I’m old friends with Billy Gibbons, and we play a lot together,” Haynes said of his guests. “On ‘The River Only Flows One Way,’ I felt like the lyrics could be talk-sung, more like a narrator, so we got Billy Bob Thornton – another good friend – to come in and kind of narrate that one. On each record we try to showcase more of our influences, that haven’t been there before – a chance to provide more insight into who we are, if you will.”

“I think this really more of a ‘song-record’ than we usually do, even if it is more complex,” Haynes added. “We wanted to bring back the concept of intricate arrangements, even though there is still plenty of jamming and playing. We wanted to explore recording in a different sense, and we enjoyed it. We have worked up five or six of the tunes from the new record, and we’ll be gradually bringing them into our sets.”

And if fans want to have the ‘Dark Side of the Mule’ concerts to savor for years to come, Haynes pointed out that all Mule concerts are recorded and available at muletracks.com.

Unique feature at In Between Days Festival

The Aug. 19-20 In Between Days Festival at Quincy’s Veterans Stadium has added some features, including a "sober supportive space" in conjunction with the 1 Million Strong support group. This area will feature a dedicated lounge and hangout space where folks who are sober can feel welcome. It is the first such venture at any venue in the area. The festival has also added a second stage, the Arbella Insurance Stage, so that the music can be continuous as the main stage is broken down and set up for the various acts. The schedule for the 24 different bands over the two-day festival is also up, at inbetweendaysfestival.com, with Modest Mouse headlining Saturday, and Lord Huron topping Sunday’s bill.

Free summer music

Summer has a wealth of free music. Every Wednesday night, the Aldous Collins Band turns Roht Marine into a dance party. Thursday nights the Bellforge Arts Center – on the site of the old Medfield State Hospital – offers free music, food trucks and a beer garden, with this week’s bill including Amanda Shea and Naomi Westbrook. Fridays we have the Hingham Launch, which this week (7 p.m.) has the excellent Danny Gallagher Band rocking out. Friday also marks the final free concert (6-8 p.m.) at the Ruth Gordon Ampitheater in Quincy, where Paul Kenny & Cherry Orchard play rock and Celtic music

Bands for Badges takes the stage

FRIDAY: Cowboy Mouth moves on to The Narrows Center. The country rock of Steel Woods at The Paradise Rock Club. Swell Season – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – at The Wang Center. No Static – the Steely Dan tribute at The Fallout Shelter. Mexican hard rock with The Warning at Brighton Music Hall. Mystic Highway – a tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival – at Soundcheck Studios. Craig Carter & The Hurricane return to rock The C-Note. Get The Led Out – a tribute to Led Zep – at Cape Cod Melody Tent. Americana rules the Leader Bank Pavilion, with The Revivalists and Band of Horses. R & B songsmith Rahsaan Patterson at City Winery.

SATURDAY: Catch the day-long Bands for Badges festival at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds – a benefit for first responders’ support programs – with Cowboy Mouth, Scott Stapp, Aldous Collins Band and more. The spooky southwestern sounds of Calexico at The Narrows Center. Get the Led Out thunders into the South Shore Music Circus. Five Seconds of Summer opens two nights of rocking MGM Music Hall. All the Feels rocks The House of Blues. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at Leader Bank Pavilion. Jpegmafia raps at Roadrunner. New York’s Finest – a tribute to the band The Police – at The Sinclair. Boston songwriter/guitarist Tim Gearan at Club Passim. Booty Vortex’ show at the C-Note is a sellout. Songwriter/v-logger Tessa Violet at The Paradise Rock Club. Cape Cod Melody Tent features comedy with Kathleen Madigan and her ‘Boxed Wine and Tiny Banjos’ show. City Winery has Wild Taxi, a quintet playing the music of Harry Chapin and Cat Stevens.

SUNDAY AND BEYOND: Sunday afternoon catch Vineyard funksters Entrain and The Gravel Project at the John Alden Sportsmans Club; or Sunday night head for rocker Melissa Etheridge at Cape Cod Melody Tent; or the A-Live Elvis tribute at City Winery. Monday, 18-year-old internet pop sensation Glaive debuts at Royale. Tuesday is packed: Aussie singer Ziggy Alberts headlines Royale; Florida quintet Tand rocks Soundcheck Studios; chartbusters Train chug into South Shore Music Circus; The Jonas Brothers open a two-night stand at TD Garden; and serious blues with Nikki Hill and Laura Chavez at The Fallout Shelter. Wednesday controversial country chart-topper Morgan Wallen opens two nights (Wed-Friday) at Fenway Park; but a better deal is South Shore country-rockers Dalton & the Sheriffs at the House of Blues; while The Anchor rocks Brighton Music Hall. Look for Peter Rowan’s Bluegrass on August 17 at the Narrows Center. August 18 finds America at Memorial Hall in Plymouth. Don’t forget the North River Blues Festival, at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, on August 26-27. Scullers Jazz Club reopens September 8 with Kenny Garrett.

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Gov’t Mule continues one of its traditions with Pink Floyd material