Review: An Evening with Gov’t Mule

Red Butte Garden, I missed you! My first concert of the outdoor concert series didn’t disappoint. Blue skies and mild temperatures greeted Gov’t Mule in a two-set evening of rockin’ blues at The Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. Tie-dye, concert t-shirts, and testosterone abounded. 

Allman Brothers Guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody formed Gov’t Mule in 1994 as a side project. They added drummer Matt Abts and in 1995 released their self-titled debut album. Since then, the “Mule,” as they’re affectionately known by their fans, has emerged as a quintessential southern rock and blues jam band, playing festivals across the globe. With a dozen studio records and nearly as many live albums to their credit, Gov’t Mule is best experienced live since their eclectic setlist changes with each performance. They mix homespun tunes with selected covers to create an evening of freewheeling, southern rock. 

Photo Credit Sam Crump

Opening their first set with “Traveling Tune,” they filled the mountain air with thunderous southern rock. For a quartet, Gov’t Mule builds a wall of sound with just a guitar, bass, drum and keyboard. Haynes, a guitar master (as one would expect from an Allman Brothers guitarist), led us throughout the night with his commanding licks. They followed up their opener with “Mule,” before moving to their first cover, Van Morrison’s “I’ve Been Working.” 

The evening’s stand-out original songs included “Banks of the Deep End,” “Thorazine Shuffle,” “Blind Man in the Dark,” and “Revolution Come Revolution Go.” They also featured some great new material off their soon-to-released album Peace…Like A River.  Sounding like a long-lost song from a Yes album from the early ‘70s, “Same As It Ever Was” is a great new tune with a vintage vibe. Their latest single “Made My Peace” also has a decidedly retro ‘70s sound. Fans of classic rock looking for something familiar, yet fresh should check out the Mule’s latest offering.

Photo Credit Sam Crump

A Gov’t Mule show wouldn’t be complete without an extended instrumental jam of a rock or blues classic. What better song to honor than Link Wray’s 1958 experimental distortion hit “Rumble.” The song, once banned in some markets due to claims it promoted juvenile delinquency, proved to be the perfect vehicle for a jammy jaunt down south–’70s style.

For their encore, the band returned to the stage for an amazing rendition of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.” They even managed to work in a signature jam at the end.  

What a perfect evening at the Garden to enjoy ‘70s-style southern guitar rock played by masterful performers. As always, the sound and sight lines were flawless. 

Who: Gov’t Mule

What: An Evening with Gov’t Mule

Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre

When: June 13, 2023


John Nelson
John Nelson
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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