First opener Trombone Shorty and his crack band Orleans Ave. produced the first of several standout moments of the night. I’m sure the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans 6th Ward, where Shorty was born and raised, had plenty of distractions, but when he began a solo about four songs in and a tall ship leaving the dock placed a long perfect blast of its horn into Shorty’s solo, the New Orleans native stopped poked his head around the stage, laughed and went right on with his business.
Second opener Jackie Greene can play the hell out of the Grateful Dead’s New Speedway Boogie. He hit the chorus holding his bone white cable high in the air, tempting us to sing- along on the “one way or another” part. The crowd was almost perfectly dialed into this vibe as we answered his call with yelps of approval. He wailed on his guitar, backing up against his drummer to bring the Workingman’s Dead tune to a blazing finish.
Gov’t Mule’s bandleader Warren Haynes’ kind, thoughtful touches were evident all evening. They started early as he came out to sign autographs before Jackie Greene played. Then his invitation of both Trombone Shorty and Jackie Greene to the stage during both sets was generous and produced the best musical moments of the evening.
Gov’t Mule ended the first set as hot as I’ve heard them since drummer Matt Abts jumped out on stage to impersonate Mick Jagger in a version of Shattered last Halloween. A three-song rumpus fueled our need to do more than just sway as Shorty joined the Mule during the Other One Jam, complete with a Gimme Shelter verse tucked in for good measure. On 32/20 Blues, a call and response section with Shorty was candy to everyone’s ears, and even old warhorse Soulshine was interesting with Shorty and a gospel style start.
Haynes must have done his research for The Beatles-themed encore because while Sir Paul McCartney reached for high notes in Blackbird and Helter Skelter a few football fields away, Haynes invited Jackie Greene up to help send off the crowd with Don’t Let Me Down and Hide Your Love Away.
My complaints with the show are strictly personal. It’s a shame that my patience for the jam band is slowly starting to wane as I was bored stiff during the umpteenth When Doves Cry > Beautifully Broken I’d witnessed. Jorgen Carlsson is a fine bassist but I keep thinking back to the touring days with all those different bass players and wondering how it would be if the low-end had more oomph.
P.S.: This show was at the Great Plaza not that overblown parking lot that is Festival Pier. The Great Plaza features light security, four heavily stocked bars, tall ships, water everywhere, fireworks, sound, and sight lines that are superb as long as you get into the first two tiers of people. Plus, I will forever think fondly of Mother Nature and her perking touch due the chilly temperatures at this gig. You randy Mother! (words and photos: Jake Krolick)
Setlist Set 1: Railroad Boy, Thorazine Shuffle, Gameface > Birdland Jam > Gameface, Towering Fool, Rockin’ Horse, Fallen Down > Other One Jam (w/Trombone Shorty), 32/20 Blues (w/Trombone Shorty), Soulshine (w/Trombone Shorty). Set 2: Trane > 3rd Stone From The Sun Jam (w/ My Favorite Things tease) > Eternity’s Breath > St Stephen Jam > Trane, Trampled Under Foot, When Doves Cry > Beautifully Broken > When Doves Cry > Beautifully Broken, Frozen Fear > Dyer Maker > Frozen Fear, Moby Dick, Drums > Moby Dick > Any Open Window > Mr. Man > Broke Down On The Brazos. E: Don’t Let Me Down (w/ Jackie Greene), Hide Your Love Away (w/ Jackie Greene)