PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

Gov't Mule + Robby Krieger: 30 October 2013 - Los Angeles

The spirits of Morrison and Manzarek feel like they’re in the house ...

Robby Krieger

Gov't Mule + Robby Krieger

City: Los Angeles
Venue: The Fonda Theatre
Date: 2013-10-30

It’s a Wednesday night in Hollywood a place where there’s a fair amount of strangeness to any given evening. Hence the neighborhood’s longtime nickname, “Hollyweird”. What makes this strange day genuine is the arrival of Gov't Mule’s appearance in advance of All Hallows Eve. Halloween shows have come to be revered highlights of the year in the jam rock community thanks to a tradition of bands donning musical costumes to pay tribute to classic rock influences of the past. When guitarist Warren Haynes and company announced that they would be joined by Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, Government Mule shot into the stratosphere of 2013’s most anticipated Halloween shows.

Costumed fans are eager to gain entrance to the venue on Hollywood Boulevard, lining up well before the scheduled opening. Many are also content to idle some time away next door at the Blue Palms Brewhouse. Central Hollywood used to have a rather seedy vibe back in the heyday of bands like Jane’s Addiction and Guns ‘n’ Roses. But the neighborhood has received a facelift in recent years, making it more friendly to tourists and locals alike. The Blue Palms is a step up from the dive bars that used to populate the area and Jane’s Addiction even received their very own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame earlier in the day, a clear sign the times they are a changing.

But tonight is about conjuring the ghost of Hollywood’s original alt-rock shamanic front man -- Mr. Mojo Risin, the Lizard King, the singer of the Doors, the legendary Jim Morrison. Some modern rock fans don’t get the Doors. They fail to grasp the immensely influential ways the band impacted the growth of rock and roll as an art form that could explore the edges of what’s possible in both music and society. Many of the artistic boundaries that music fans take for granted these days were first explored by Morrison and the Doors.

Promo posters for the show feature a mule in a field at dawn, a play off the album cover for the Doors’ Waiting for the Sun album. Government Mule aren’t billed to play the album per se though, so there’s anticipation to find out what hallowed ground from the Doors catalog will be covered. When the lights dim Haynes and company open the show with a powerful first set featuring a mix of Mule mainstays and tunes from the band’s strong new album Shout. The history of the blues is always strong in the air at any Mule show, with Haynes being one of the premier bluesmen of the modern age. Not just in his current skills, which rate so high that Rolling Stone ranked him as the 23rd greatest guitarist of all time, but in how his playing incorporates the entire history of blues rock.

The band is clearly on from the start, no doubt psyched for the second set with Krieger. But the first set delivers as well, with a powerful flow of energy to engage the audience. “Unring the Bell” from 2006’s High and Mighty provides not just a blast of blues power, but also a dose of some of the most politically-oriented lyrics in recent times with lines like “Fake liberty is just another form of hate, Unring the bell before it's too late.” The new “World Boss” features a similar vibe, with a hard rocking sound and hot jam that gets the crowd going as if it were an old favorite. Bassist Jorgen Carlsson and drummer Matt Abts are a powerhouse tandem for both this song and the set-closer “Thorazine Shuffle”.

The Fonda’s stylish outdoor smoking patio buzzes with anticipation during the set break. The Doors were one of the first rock bands to push the social envelope with politically oriented lyrics in songs like “Five to One” and “The Unknown Soldier”, so it’s appropriate that Krieger joined forces with a modern rock band who isn't afraid to speak out about the insanity in American politics. Haynes is also a master of the team-up, frequently collaborating with other artists at festivals and on the Shout double LP, whose second disc features all the songs from the first disc but with guest vocalists adding their own spin on each track.

When the second set opens with “Break on Through (to the Other Side)”, it feels almost as if the audience has been transported back to the ‘60s. Haynes is one of rock’s greatest chameleons, able to cover vocal ranges from Jim Morrison to Robert Plant to Jerry Garcia with masterful skill. “Love Me Two Times” kicks the party into high gear and it’s pure joy to watch Haynes and Krieger trading licks throughout the night. “People Are Strange” has long felt like a quintessential Halloween type song and it’s a gem this night, with keyboardist Danny Louis doing a sensational job on Ray Manzarek's passages.

It isn't just a greatest hits set. The band digs in on deep cuts like “Wild Child”, “Been Down So Long” and “The Changeling”. The blues numbers highlight the outstanding players Haynes and Krieger both are. Their interweaving slide guitars provide one dazzling burst of bluesy bliss after another. The spirits of Morrison and Manzarek feel like they’re in the house.

The deepest jam of the night occurs on “Light My Fire”, a hit tune mostly written by Krieger which propelled the Doors into superstar status. The song’s hit status became something of an albatross to Morrison at times, but here Government Mule and Krieger demonstrate what a stellar jam vehicle it is. The highlight version stretches for 10 minutes and features teases of “Eleanor Rigby” and “My Favorite Things”.

“Five to One” offers a surprise treat when Krieger’s son Waylon appears to deliver the lead vocal on the song. It is one of Morrison’s most compelling works with ever-green lyrics such as “They’ve got the guns, but we’ve got the numbers”. The set continues to pick up steam, surging to conclusion with electrifying renditions of “Roadhouse Blues”, “Riders on the Storm” and “LA Woman”. The set is a slice of classic rock and roll heaven.

An encore of “When the Music’s Over” closes the show in epic, triumphant fashion. Gov't Mule has been playing the song for a few years, but to hear it with Krieger is special. The classic lyric of “The music is your special friend, dance on fire as it intends” speaks to all who view rock and roll akin to religion. The metaphysical power of rock music is a form of spiritual sustenance to countless fans. The Doors knew it, Gov't Mule knows it and everyone in the house knew it that night. The performance wasn't just a show, it was a bonafide sermon.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.