The Warren Haynes Band brought the James Brown on Halloween in Denver - Reverb

Live review: Warren Haynes Band @ the Ogden Theatre

In the jam band scene, there is a long tradition of bands “impersonating” other artists on Halloween, for either a few songs or an entire set. Last night at the Ogden Theatre, guitar virtuoso Warren Haynes did his best James Brown impersonation for the sold-out crowd, playing one set of his own material, and a second set of James Brown covers.

Haynes has honed his chops in a variety of hard-rock tinged acts, such as Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers, and even when he was playing with more folk-oriented acts like the various incarnations of the post-Jerry Dead bands, he infuses a searing presence to the electric guitar. Haynes’s latest band, the Warren Haynes Band, is a significant departure from that, bringing in more of the New Orleans funk and soul vibe, with Haynes toning down the guitar solos for a more band-oriented approach.

In the first set, Haynes found his range early, engaging in a long call-and-response solo with saxophonist Ron Holloway. During “On a Real Lonely Night,” keyboardist Nigel Hall got into the act as well, ripping into some funky, B3-style keys around Haynes’ singing, sustained guitar solos and Holloway’s nimble sax.

As part of the show Monday night, for one night only, Haynes brought a full horn section. In addition to Holloway, former Dirty Dozen Brass Band trombonist Sammie “Big Sam” Williams was on hand, as was a trumpet player. The full horn section added a fat, brassy sound that at times overwhelmed the Ogden’s limited confines, almost distorting during the extended jams, such as on “Invisible.” Williams’ joyous dancing when he wasn’t tearing into the trombone like a hard rock superstar was fun to watch.

Haynes and company opened the James Brown set with the classic “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” While Haynes and Hall made plenty of room for the horns, it was interesting to see how Holloway commanded the stage, the other two taking their cues from him on when to step up for the fills.

As entertaining as it was at times, particularly on a dark, gritty “Down and Out in New York City,” the James Brown set was a strange choice. Perhaps it’s that Brown seemed to basically write a hundred different versions of the same song, or just that in the context of a James Brown song, there is little room for a lead guitarist like Haynes to step up and rip into a long solo.

SETLIST
Set 1
Intro-> Tear Me Down, River’s Gonna Rise, Sick of My Shadow, On A Real Lonely Night, Tit for Tat, Invisible, Man In Motion

Set 2: (Halloween James Brown Set)
Intro->, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag Part 1->, Intro->, Papa Don’t Take No Mess, I Got A Bag of My Own, Ain’t That A Groove, Talking Loud->, Georgia On My Mind, Out of Sight, Down and Out in New York City, Superbad, It’s A Man’s World, Think About It->, Cold Sweat, Try Me->, Intro->, Pass The Peas, Please, Please, Please, I Feel Good, E: Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag Part 2, Soulshine

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Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

Joshua Elioseff is a Boulder based photographer of everything, a self-professed music junkie and regular contributor to Reverb. Check his photos out on Facebook or his website.

  • Mmmillner

    The trumpet player was Rashon Ross who plays with Dave Matthews Band.