The Scene: The scene inside The Ogden last week was given away well before I stepped inside as I cruised around the neighborhood looking for parking for 25 minutes getting progressively more worried I was going to miss the opener (and the band I was really going to see). Fortunately, I found a space and was able to duck in the door right after Vintage Trouble took the stage in front of a nearly packed house of Southern boys, grizzled bikers and a smattering of hippies. It was a varied crowd, but the energy in the room was high all night long.
Vintage Trouble: Vintage Trouble is a high energy act out of L.A. that serves up vintage Blues, Rock and Soul with a fervor that is seldom equaled these days. Frontman Ty Taylor pours himself into every set as he dances, spins, and wails his way into the hearts and souls of crowds all over the world. Vintage Trouble has toured with the likes of The Who, Dave Matthews Band and Bon Jovi so they are no strangers to big stages, but the relative intimacy of The Ogden seems to fit the band better than the open expanse of a stadium or arena.
Fans along the rail screamed, danced and threw their hands in the air as the band tore through “Nancy Lee,” “You Better Believe It” and several other tunes from their debut album, The Bomb Shelter Sessions. It was clear that the band was winning over fans and when Taylor jumped off the stage and made his way up to the packed balcony, he made those who weren’t paying him much attention stop their conversations and acknowledge his showmanship.
Though Taylor held the spotlight for much of the performance, guitarist Nalle Colt showed off his chops several times including a lengthy solo that surely had many of the Warren Haynes fans wondering who the hell this guy was, and how they hadn’t heard about him. As their set wound down the band found time to run through the powerful ballad “Nobody Told Me” and demonstrated just how versatile they are as musicians. Vintage Trouble is the real deal folks . . . don’t miss them next time they come through town!
Stage Presence: A+
Set/Light Show: B-
Gov’t Mule: In all honesty I’ve never really been a fan of Gov’t Mule. I respect Warren Haynes as an artist and am always blown away by his guitar playing, but there is just something about the Gov’t Mule sound that doesn’t get under my skin. That said, I know there are tons of fans out there and I’ll admit that after this show I’m starting to see why.
The show kicked off with a pair of “Mr.” songs: “Mr. Man” and “Mr. High and Mighty” and we were off to the races. From the get-go it was clear that the band was having fun on stage as they played off each other and locked into extremely tight jams that showcased the immense talent on stage. Haynes effortlessly shredded solo after solo as Danny Louis decorated the grinding Southern Rock influenced tones with some mighty fine keyboard playing. They rhythm section of Matt Abts and Jorgen Carlsson were rock solid and provided a fortress like foundation for the immense sound of The Mule.
Haynes changed the pace a bit with the Reggae flavored “I’m A Ram” and the sweet smell of Colorado’s favorite weed filled the air as I found myself really enjoying a Mule show for the first time. I think I caught a little “St. Stephen” tease before the band fittingly slipped into “Patchwork Quilt,” a song Haynes wrote about the late Jerry Garcia and released on the Phil Lesh album There and Back Again.
Sadly this is where the show started to loose me a bit as the sound that I felt had been varying for much of the show up to this point started to blend together into that monotonous buzzsaw of Rock and Blues. While that’s not a “bad” thing persay, it’s what has always turned me away from these guys. Maybe there isn’t enough melody, maybe I just don’t get it, who knows? It was clear to me that many, many people do get it and were having a blast at this show. As one friend of mine said to me later in the night, “love it or hate, you’ve got to admit they are consistent.” He was right, they are consistent, maybe too consistent for my liking.
I made it about halfway through the second set before knuckling under to a long day and the warm confines of my bed, but I’ve got admit I wish I hung around for what was surely an electrifying encore performance of “Take Me To The River” with Colt and Taylor of Vintage Trouble sitting it. Haynes always has a few tricks up his sleeve, that one just came too late for me this time around.
Setlist – November 5th – Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO
Set 1: Mr. Man, Mr. High & Mighty, Endless Parade, I’m A Ram, Gameface*, Patchwork Quilt, Forsaken Savior, No Reward
Set 2: Scared To Live, Railroad Boy > Wine & Blood > Sco-Mule > Drums > Child Of The Earth > Thorazine Shuffle% > Funny Little Tragedy > Thorazine Shuffle Reprise
Encore: Stay With Me^, Take Me To The River$
* with St. Stephen Tease
% with Hottentot, Riders On The Storm & 2001 Teases
^ with Nalle Colt of Vintage Trouble
$ with Nalle Colt & Ty Taylor of Vintage Trouble
Stage Presence: B-
Set/Light Show: B