Blues Traveler returned to Red Rocks for two shows over the Fourth of
July weekend with Agents Of Good Roots and Gov't Mule opening. Agents took
the stage on Friday under threatening skies, opening with its current
single, "Smiling Up The Frown." The band played a 40-minute set of funky
tunes, highlighting the set with a rock version of "Fifty Ways To Leave
Gov't Mule (Warren Haynes on guitar, Allen Woody on bass and Matt Abts on
drums) followed with a hot set of guitar-driven, power trio rock. The Mule
opened with "John the Revelator" and paced its set with some great jams.
The group's new single, a cover of the Beatles' "She Said, She Said," was
quite catchy, with an awesome jam at the end. Haynes and company ended its
hour-long set with a rocking version of "Mule."
Luckily for the fans in attendance, the threatening skies never broke, and
a beautiful half moon rose high in the sky as Traveler took the stage at
about 9:00pm, opening with "Justify the Thrill." Popper recently said in
the band's newsletter that he was considering dropping the harp for the
next album, and the new songs played in the first set reflected this
possible approach. An instrumental entitled "The Intro" led into "The
Way" followed by "The Light In Her Eyes," which also had no harp. All
three were very upbeat, and the crowd danced along. Other highlights of
the first set, which was simulcast on the radio, included a jamming
"Gloria" and an excellent "Whoops," which featured the machine gun
staccato part out of the line "Gentlemen, you may fire at will." Traveler
ended the first set with "Hook."
Set two was awesome from start to finish and was reminiscent of the '93
tour when one could see the band in smaller venues. The band opened with a
mini-acoustic set that the band began on the '97 Fall Tour after a VH1
appearance. A nice segue of "100 Years>Sweet Pain" was followed by a
frenetic "Optimistic Thought." Donning the electric instruments again, the
band belted out an awesome ";Gina," a tune that seems to get better with
each outing. During the spacey middle of the tune, bassist Bobby Sheehan
teased the melody of "In A Gadda Da Vida" (what I wouldn't give to hear
Phish cover that!). Traveler also debuted two more new songs, both of
which also had no harmonica. "The Heavens Get Pissed" was especially
The second set closed with a great run that started with "But Anyway" and
included good versions of "Just Wait" and "Support Your Local Emperor."
Warren Haynes joined the band for a 22-minute "Mountain Cry" that was
spectacular, featuring Haynes, Kinchla and Popper matching solos. For an
encore, the group delived a ripping "Mother Funker."
July 4 opened with cloudy skies, but by the time Agents took the stage,
the sun was out and shining. The band opened with "Shot Down" and "Smiling
Up The Frown." The highlights of the set were a rocking cover of "Sultans
Of Swing" and a funky "Hobby."
Gov't Mule followed with an hour-long set that had the crowd psyched for
the coming fireworks. The Mule opened with "Grinnin'" and an encore
performance of "Rockin Horse." Things really got good in the latter half
of its set, beginning with an awesome cover of Neil Young's "Cortez The
Killer," during which Haynes let loose a flurry of guitar pyrotechnics.
"She Said, She Said" followed featuring a killer jam. John Popper joined
the band for the final number, a version of "Mule" during which Haynes and
Popper traded licks.
As darkness dropped, Traveler took the stage. Popper let loose with "The
Star-Spangled Banner," which flowed beautifully into "Sweet Talkin'
Hippie," setting a blistering pace for the first set that never let up.
The band debuted two new songs of which "Her And Me" was the standout.
Warren Haynes joined the band on slide guitar for a beautiful "Mountains
Win Again." In a return to tradition from the previous year, "Crystal
Flame" followed and fireworks lit up the sky behind Red Rocks. The band
delivered a blistering "All In The Groove" (last played on 10/15/95) and
ended the set with a hot "Great Big World."
Set Two opened with "Traveler Suite" (last played on 12/28/96), serving
notice that the band wanted to push the envelope. This version had no
harmonica - a first - but the tune didn't suffer. Kinchla's solo out of
the third movement was tight and distorted beautifully into the next
movement. A tender "Yours" was followed by the seldom played "Love Of My
Life," which had a great feel to it. Hopefully, the band will play this
standout more often. Traveler brought the crowd to its feet after the
mellow start with a rocking "Stand" and a bouncy "Psycho Joe." Warren
Haynes joined the band for a very funky jam that had overtones of the Bob
Marley tune "Could You Be Loved," which led into an outstanding "Gotta Get
Mean," during which Kinchla, Popper and Haynes traded solos. Popper then
announced the group would play "an old song that I don't think you'll
remember," and launched into a very bluesy "Shotgun Shell" (last played on
5/17/94), closing the set with "Crash Burn."
For an encore, the band delivered an outstanding "Escaping," played with
beautiful emotion and sung with great intensity by Popper. This year's Red
Rocks run was the best yet. Can't wait to see what it does to top it.