Gov't Mule and John Scofield played the final two shows of their Sco-Mule Winter Tour this past weekend at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The tour, which is in support of the recently released live album Sco-Mule, has seen Gov't Mule shifting between their own material and the music from that live album, along with the fair share of covers they're known to deliver.
The first set began with Gov't Mule's four members blasting in to "Railroad Boy" off their '09 LP By A Thread. The sludgy rock of "Game Face" kept things going, and made way for two notable teases: Weather Report's "Birdland" and the Allman Brothers Band's "Mountain Jam." Gov't Mule then played two new songs off 2013's Shout!, "Whisper In Your Soul" and "Captured." It's worth noting that these songs appeared third and fourth in the setlist just as they appear third and fourth on the LP.
Mule upped the ante when they invited John Scofield to the stage and covered "Tell Me Something Good," a song by Rufus (Chaka Khan's band). The five-piece then performed "Hottentot," a Scofield original that is turned into a jazz-rock epic when played with Gov't Mule. The song spiraled out into "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" for a minute or two before diving back into the spacey original.
The first set closed with "Kind of Bird," a track written by Haynes alongside Dickey Betts during his early years in the Allman Brothers Band. Sco-Mule stretched the rendition to 22+ minutes of dueling guitar shred that demonstrated both players' absurd capabilities.
Second set began with John Scofield sitting in. Gov't Mule's "Rocking Horse" ignited the 53-minute set before the quintet took on Scofield's "Jeep on 35." The collaborative title song, "Sco-Mule," followed, and teased Santana's "Oye Como Va" on guitar and Sly & The Family Stone's "Dance to the Music" vocally.
As Scofield exited, Gov't Mule began "Beautifully Broken," which sandwiched a cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Breakdown" that had the crowd going bananas. The second set ended with a 16-minute version of the Mule classic "Thorazine Shuffle" that saw Warren Haynes and keyboardist Danny Louis exchanging solos to an exuberant audience.
John Scofield was invited out to finish things off during the encore. The ballad "Fallen Down" segued into a 10-minute jam based around the Grateful Dead's "The Other One." As if elements of Weather Report, Allman Brothers, Chaka Khan, Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, and the Grateful Dead weren't enough of a history lesson for the crowd, Sco-Mule ended things with a cover of The Doors' "Riders on the Storm."
The concert proved to be a tasteful tribute to all-things-rock-n-roll as much as it was another display of epic talent from Gov't Mule and John Scofield. Both acts are renowned in their respective jam and jazz scenes, but they are even more incredible when paired together. The challenge of playing within each other's genres proved to be as enjoyable for those on stage as it was for those of us in the crowd, and we watched them smile at the other's riffs and licks each step along the way. While the tour is over, we hope this isn't the last we see of Sco-Mule.
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