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Gov’t Mule & Chris Robinson Brotherhood Welcome the NYC Summer

“Welcome to your summer,” Chris Robinson said when he greeted the crowd at 6pm on Wednesday evening. It was about 87 degrees and the sun was shining like it hasn’t in month, transporting the thousands of people who made the trek to Central Park’s SummerStage for their first concert of the year. It was totally perfect weather for an outdoor show at the end of the cold weather seasons.

Robinson led his Brotherhood band through eight of their signature pyschedelic rock songs, all of which originals this time around. The band has amassed a great body of musical work, visually accompanied by the artwork of Alan Forbes, to create a band that might supersede the Black Crowes in terms of creativity and chemistry. Chris Robinson Brotherhood have a wonky world of synths, guitars, and C-Rob’s California swagger that keeps the live show exciting. On a beautiful day, it’s perfect music to bop around the sunshine too, especially tracks like the new “Behold the Steer” and the sort of haunting “Narcissus Soaking Wet.”

When Gov’t Mule took the stage, the sun had just tucked behind some of the Upper West Side’s building, giving the SummerStage crowd a chance to cool down a bit. But a new source of heat emerged in Warren Haynes’ blazing guitar work, and faces went from sweating to full on melting in no time fast.

They came out blazing with a selection of older tunes from a wide variety of albums. “World Boss” kicked things off in spectacular fashion, with “Brand New Angel”, “About To Rage”, “Rocking Horse” and “Birth of the Mule” not really letting up on showcasing the band’s hard-hitting southern blues foundation.

Mule is currently touring in anticipation of their upcoming album Revolution Come… Revolution Go, and had a handful of new ones to play for the audience. The new material fits in nicely amongst the old favorites, and even though the songs haven’t sunken in like the classics, it seems that with a little time they’ll become staples of the Mule catalogue. “Stone Cold Rage” is a worthy companion to the band’s output as a three-piece, while “Travelin Tune” is a logical segue from Haynes’ solo album with Railroad Earth released a couple years ago.

While the center of the set focused on newer and slower tunes, the band picked it back up big time for the last 40 minutes of their 2.5 hour set. “Game Face” had “Birdland” and “Mountain Jam” teases and “Time To Confess” had “Shakedown Street” nestled in there somehow. Actor, harmonica player, and sometimes-Mule collaborator Bruce Willis came out with Neal Casal to sit-in on “Key to the Highway,” before “Stratus” and “Mule” invited saxophonist Steve Elson and percussionist Bobby Allende out to help with the big finish.

The encore was fittingly another new one in a show that felt a bit like a record release party. Three of Revolution Come‘s songs made their live debuts in Central Park, and where better to showcase some new material? It was a picturesque, early summer night with Mule and Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood, beautiful weather and an open-air concert for many people who haven’t spent more than commuting time outside for months. We would have listened to Warren try his hand at stand-up comedy, but luckily the new songs are ripping new additions to the legendary catalogue. Mixed in the bag with the old favorites, it made for a great time.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s Setlist [via]

New Cannonball Rag > Tomorrow Blues Ain’t It Hard but Fair Behold the Seer Blue Star Woman > California Hymn Narcissus Soaking Wet > Shore Power

Gov’t Mule’s Setlist

World Boss Brand New Angel About To Rage Rocking Horse Birth Of The Mule Whisper In Your Soul > Stone Cold Rage with Bobby Allende Sarah, Surrender with Bobby Allende, Jasmine Muhammad & Lauren Dawson (First Time Played) Traveling Tune with Bobby Allende (First Time Played) Forsaken Savior Game Face with Norwegian Wood, Birdland & Mountain Jam teases Banks Of The Deep End Time To Confess with Shakedown Street & Band On The Run teases Key To The Highway with Bruce Willis & Neal Casal Revolution Come, Revolution Go Stratus with Bobby Allende & Steve Elson Mule with Bobby Allende & Steve Elson

Encore: Dreams & Songs with Jasmine Muhammad & Lauren Dawson (First Time Played)


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