Photo by Stewart O'Shields
It was a long night of music. What else would you expect from Warren Haynes?
This wasn’t Gov’t Mule or the Allman Brothers or the Dead (Haynes' other gigs.) It was the Warren Haynes Band for two sets and 2 3/4 hours of music Wednesday night at the packed Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.
On his fine new "Man in Motion" album (his first solo disc since 1993), the jam-band stalwart explores his R&B and southern soul roots. That was the focus of his opening 70-minute set, featuring the bluesy soulful "River’s Gonna Rise" and "Sick of My Shadow" with its "Feelin’ Alright" groove.
Haynes also threw in Gov’t Mule’s "Beautifully Broken" with his eloquent guitar soliloquy and "Back Where I Started," a Derek Trucks Band tune, on which Haynes’ guitar work found the intersection of Eric Clapton and Jerry Garcia.
With most of the numbers typically running 8 to 10 minutes, there were plenty of fierce exchanges between Haynes’ guitar and Ron Holloway’s saxophone, Nigel Hall’s keyboards or Alecia Chakour’s vocals.
The 90-minute second set seemed a little sluggish (especially Van Morrison’s "Listen to the Lion" and "Dreamin’ the Same Dream," a Haynes cowrite with Ziggy Marley). But things unexpectedly turned around on a bluesy, unironic reading of Steely Dan’s "Pretzel Logic." In fact, it may have been the night’s high point, thanks to Haynes’ rip-roaring guitar work at the end.
He was hot for the rest of the night, with the Mule’s funky "Tear Me Down" suggesting George Clinton, "Your Wildest Dreams" evoking Otis Redding and the always brightening "Soulshine," featuring Hall’s piano intro and outro of "Purple Rain."