Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Letter To Paul (Gov't Mule, S.F. 11/07)

Just yesterday, I got an email from my friend Paul (of Paul's Rants and Raves, linked over on the right) asking for a review of Gov't Mule's two night stand at the Fillmore. I started to reply, but began to ramble on and on. After a couple of paragraphs, I decided to continue the letter, but post it here as a concert tale. This way, Paul can read it at his leisure and not feel like I've clubbed him with a ton of text. It doesn't read like my prior efforts since I stayed with a correspondence style, but this way I can take a shortcut back to posting again. Also, I really didn't spellcheck or pay attention to structure or pacing. The letter follows below:

Hey Paul,

Thanks for sending the photo. That's a fine looking young man you have there. I'll show the photo to Mary tonight.

We had blast this past weekend, but how could we not? As I mentioned in my previous communication, we were celebrating a belated anniversary celebration and were ready to party and cut loose a little. We arrived early enough to enjoy a relaxing couple of glasses of wine from the reception in the lobby--much better than sweating out the traffic and feeling rushed to get something to eat and get to the show early enough, blah, blah, blah. We washed up and headed over to our traditional pre-Fillmore dinner at Benihana. I realize it's a chain and there are many excellent places in S.F., but we always have a great meal there close to the venue and usually meet some interesting people. This time, we dined with some folks that originally hailed from Iran. Nice people and one was celebrating his birthday, so we insisted that he have a glass from our bottle of sake. By the way, there is a tricky balance when mixing Sapporo and sake. Hint, lean a little more to the Sapporo side to play it safe.

After dinner, we timed it perfectly to walk right up the stairs and into the Fillmore. Looked at the swag (Mary got another great shirt----she's got far more concert shirts than I do by now) and we checked our coats. After securing a couple of beers, we talked to some folks from Bakersfield and some Mule first timers. Mary got it in her head that we were going up front this time so we headed out onto the floor to check out Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, where Mary got us about 6 people deep from the stage. I'd picked up her latest disc used out of town and liked it enough, but it wasn't winning me over. She was great live however, and I'm looking forward to seeing if the CD comes to life a little now that I've felt some "oomph" behind the tracks. Matt Abts came out for a little drum circle thing that was cool enough to see, but a little plain. (They did the same exact thing the next night sans Abts).

The Mule was awesome on Friday and the crowd was super cool and polite. After missing them last year, we were smiling and reminding each other how much we love these guys live. The sound was loud, but not overpowering, and very clean. I always bring my earplugs just in case, but rarely need them at The Fillmore--not even for the Black Crowes, who can do some serious damage to their fans. The setlist is below. My faves were Low Spark (always loved that tune anyway), Ohio with Potter, and Brighter Days to open set 2. We left a little early to secure posters of the show since we heard that they only had 100 per night.

11.09.07 The Fillmore - San Francisco, CASet 1Helter SkelterThorazine ShuffleTime To ConfessFeel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home>Eleanor Rigby teaseWandering ChildShape I'm InLow Spark Of High Heeled BoysSlackjaw JezebelFind The Cost Of Freedom> w. Grace PotterOhio w/ Grace Potter & Scott Tournet

Set 2Brighter DaysLike FliesChampagne & Reefer W/ Elvin BishopThat's What Love Will Make You DoDrumsSoulshine tease> Trampled UnderfootSoulshine30 Days In The Hole>I Don't Need No DoctorEncoreOut Of The RainI'll Be The OneI'll Take You There

Saturday, we slept in really late as we shook the cobwebs from our minds and bodies. We had ideas of hitting a museum or perhaps heading into Golden Gate Park, but we were pretty whipped and decided to just go for some lunch and a long walk. It was a misty day, so the Park would have been dissapointing and I wasn't in the mood for the confines of a museum. We put on comfy clothes, grabbed the umbrella and walked around Japantown ducking into stores and the two awesome Asian malls near the hotel. The malls make you feel like you're in Japan, as much as I can guess. Caucasians are the minority and English is usually the second language, so it feels somewhat exotic. I also love walking around in the rain under an umbrella. In the rainy element and the Asian influence all around, I felt like I was an extra in the opening sequence of Blade Runner.

We went back to the hotel and shared a bottle of wine we brought from home to relax and watch some college football before getting cleaned up for the show. This time, we decided to try the restaurant in the hotel. The menu was a bit too adventurous for us, so we shared some tame appetizers of beef and chicken skewers and tempura mushrooms. The mushrooms were pretty heavy on the batter and we both felt a little thick afterwards. We went into the mall and shared some focaccia bread from Anderson's to take the edge off and settle our bellies. Then it was off to the show.

While Friday was sold out late, Saturday had been for a while and it seemed more packed this time. The crowd seemed different too, with more of an attitude and much less friendly in terms of making room as you walked by or apolgizing for bumping into you. After Potter's set, Mary was not feeling well and we think it was the mushrooms (that sounds like a drug reference, especially at The Fillmore) because of her shellfish allergy. It's so severe that she has to be careful of most fried foods in case restaurants share the fryer with all foods. She tried getting some fresh air and we moved about the Fillmore to try and find a good spot for her, but it was really stuffy in there that night and she almost felt claustrophobic. She stuck it out for the first set, but decided to leave at the break and insisted that I stay. As I wrote before on my blog, Japantown is really safe and the hotel is right around the block, so I felt okay about her heading back.

The setlist is below. My faves this night were If 6 Was 9, Southern Man with Potter, Streamline Woman, and I'm A Ram. Warren seemed to be in a really good mood, smiling and acknowledging the crowd quite often. I preferred Friday's set, but had they only played one night and gave us this, I would not have walked away dissapointed.

11.10.07 The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA Set 1:Grinnin' In Your Face Bad Little DoggieStreamline WomanDevil Likes It SlowNo Need To SufferChild Of The EarthLarger Than LifeIf 6 Was 9I Shall Return>Drift Away>I Shall ReturnSouthern Man w/ Grace Potter

Set 2:Patchwork QuiltBeautifully Broken>Bus StopMr. High & MightyBrand New AngelDrumsReblow Your Mind w/ Get Up, Stand Up JamI'm A RamMuleEncore 1:Shelter *Encore 2:After Midnight

Another great show. I ducked out after hearing the first notes of After Midnight and got another poster. It was raining pretty good as I left and Mary had taken the umbrella with her. Luckily I'd worn a jacket with a hood, so I dashed off to a liquor store to get a burrito (which is also a Fillmore tradition) since the appetizers had long worn off. I enjoyed hearing the rain snap off of my hood and unlike the others walking around, I was in no hurry to get anywhere. In the liquor store, I felt really old as four seemingly sober young people ordered two cases of beer, two mini-kegs of Heineken, and a bottle of vodka. It was 1:15 in the morning and they looked to just be starting out that night while I was almost out on my feet. I took my modest meal back to the hotel and tried not to wake Mary up by struggling with the wrapper. It was to little effect and she giggled at my efforts. I propped up a pillow and watched TV turned down low as I attempted to not sound like a wolf ripping apart a rabbit.

Sunday morning was a little more gentle on us and we gnoshed on a couple of doughnuts while watching NFL pregame stuff. We decided to get on the road and pick up fast food on the way instead of sticking around the city. Traffic was light and we made good time going home. Sitting at home watching the Raiders stink it up again, we kept doing that "oh, remember when....?" thing as we recalled all the good memories from our trip. I get to see Gov't Mule do a two night stand as a mutual gift for our wedding anniversary. Pretty damn charmed life I lead.