[H O M E]
[Side Projects]
[Tour Dates]

Blues Traveler At Red Rocks
by Candace Horgan
Relix Magazine, National
Oct 1st, 1998

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 Your Lover."

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 fun.

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.