What should we call it — jam glam? Halfway through Gov’t Mule’s intimate September 30th set at Brooklyn Bowl in New York, singer-guitarist Warren Haynes started playing the most unlikely riff, a gnarly stuttering thing that many of the couple-hundred folks on hand to celebrate the release of the Mule’s new studio album, By a Thread, probably didn’t recognize: “Is It My Body,” from Alice Cooper’s 1971 dirty-glitter classic, Love It to Death. I’ve seen the Mule light up whole chunks of the Sixties and Seventies songbooks on stage, but this was a great leap sideways. Keyboard player Danny Louris handled second lead guitar, so he and Haynes could recreate the original double talk of Alice guitarists Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton, while drummer Matt Abs and new bassist Jorgen Carlsson added some Free muscle to the pulse.
It was the only cover of the night. There wasn’t much room for more. Compared to the stretch-limo length of a regular Mule show, this was a battlefield-jeep ride: an hour plus encore, more than half of it drawn from the group’s meaty new album. Haynes emphasized the heavier, hard-charging numbers, starting with “Broke Down on the Brazos” and playing electric twelve-string slide guitar on “Railroad Boy.” The vintage chop of “Thorazine Shuffle” sounded especially violent in such close quarters, while “Inside Outside Woman Blues #3,” the second of two encores from By a Thread, was Cream with lava and Hendrix wah-wah. “See you on the road,” Haynes told the small lucky crowd at the end. The songs are ready.