Gov’t Mule @ Kodak Center in Rochester, NY 9-24-23

It’s been a busy and eventful year for Gov’t Mule. The rock jam band released “Peace Like a River,” a spectacular album, earlier this year and then went out on the road with a new bass player. I caught them twice over the last few months, including a headlining performance at the Kodak Center in Rochester, NY on Sunday, September 24.
As the Mule approaches their 30th anniversary, the only thing that has not remained a constant is their bass player. Founding bassist Allen Woody passed away in 2000, and after a few years without an official bass player, Andy Hess took over bass from 2003-2008, which was around the same time they added a fourth member, keyboardist Danny Louis.
Jorgen Carlsson assumed bass duties in 2008, but after a stellar performance on “Peace Like a River” and 15 years with The Mule, he left unexpectedly.
The history lesson is important because while the band still includes guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, and Louis, they were faced with the daunting task of replacing Carlsson’s indelible mark on the band. Which may not have been as significant as Allen Woody’s, Carlsson’s playing and stage presence added a lot to the band.
The band brought in bassist Kevin Scott, who had subbed for Carlsson a few times in the past. When a prominent band member is replaced, one of two things is bound to happen: the band will sound revitalized, or they will lose something.
When I saw the band back in August as part of the Outlaw Festival Tour, it was clear Scott was a very different type of bass player from Carlsson, but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the change.
When the band hit the stage at the Kodak Center, they launched into two classics, “Blind Man in the Dark” and “Bad Little Doggie.” Sometimes jam bands take a bit to find a groove, but it was clear from the first note they were all locked and loaded.
Scott brings a finesse to the band’s sound that has been missing, which is closer to the power trio type sound Gov’t Mule was going for in their early days. That is not a knock on Carlsson, because he played with precision and subtly, allowing Haynes to explore some great musical territories, but Scott just seems to drive the band back to their roots, and it is a joy to watch.
As much as the first set was solid, the second set eclipsed it by a mile. They kicked it off with “Soulshine,” and then launched into a unique version of Steve Miller’s “The Joker.” That was followed by Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days,” where Scott really made a statement, and you could see the band and the entire venue smile as Scott crushed the iconic bass groove.
The Bobby Blue Bland classic “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” followed before they seamlessly fit in “After the Storm” from “Peace Like a River,” followed by a jaw-dropping version of “Mule.”
They closed out with a Howlin Wolf cover followed by a Dave Mason cover, and while the set relied heavily on cover songs, all of them had the indelible Mule stamp on them.
I could write an entire review devoted to their light show; it really needs to be experienced, especially when too many bands rely on distracting video screens. The Mule’s light show enhances the experience without becoming the show itself.
Set 1:
Blind Man in the Dark
Bad Little Doggie
About to Rage
Made my Peace
Devil Likes it Slow
32-20 Blues (Robert Johnson cover)/Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley (snippet-Robert Palmer cover)  
Time to Confess
Set 2:
Soulshine (The Allman Brothers Band cover)
The Joker (Steve Miller Band cover) 
One of These Days (Pink Floyd cover)
Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City (Bobby “Blue” Band cover) 
After the Storm
Brighter Days
Mule/Whole Lotta Love (snippet-Led Zeppelin cover)
I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline) 
Sad and Deep As You (Dave Mason cover) 
We would like to thank Bari Liberman from Press Here Publicity for the credentials to review the show.