The new album Man In Motion, just out on Stax records finds him working with a brand new touring band after recording the album with his dream cast of players. Live, the band offered up a first set heavy on material from the new release as well as a healthy sampling of songs from his original solo release including the incredibly funky Invisible and his original single Fire In The Kitchen. But the highlight of the first set was seeing Warren and Mr. Bell connect during their three-song interlude that included Bell’s two most famous song’s Born Under A Bad Sign and You Don’t Miss Your Water.
The two also tackled Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday, a tune that Warren covers on the new album. It was clear that Mr. Haynes was thrilled to be playing with an early personal hero. And Mr. Bell seemed thrilled to be invited to the party and proud to watch someone claiming him as an idol succeed.
The second set was where things opened up considerably. It started out with Warren solo on acoustic guitar for a segment that included The Real Thing and In My Life. Haynes strapped on to his hollow body to finish the interlude – although he didn’t play it – and had Nigel Hall accompany him on piano for Save Me. Then, he brought the band back for a soulful take on Beautifully Broken from the Mule catalog with its standard When Doves Cry intro. Local boy Danny Louis from the Mule treated the New York City crowd to several appearances, sitting in with Nigel Hall on keyboards.
The crowd really got excited for a cover of Allen Toussaint’s Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley. Haynes again leaned on the early solo career with great takes on Power & The Glory and Tear Me Down.
Over the course of a career that has included stints with David Allen Coe, Dickey Betts, The Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule and now two versions of the Warren Haynes Band, it is Warren’s ability to connect with his fans through his soulful singing, blistering guitar work and an uncanny ability to pick songs to cover that has won him a large and loyal fanbase. It doesn’t hurt that he wrote Soulshine, possibly one of the greatest soul songs of all time.
So when Ruthie Foster and Warren took the stage to start the encore and began an a capella duet of Grinnin’ In Your Face that morphed into a full band take on Soulshine there were smiles on nearly every face in the house. But when Soulshine ended and Warren invited guitarist Brad Whitford of Aerosmith to the stage for a dirty, bluesy version of the Ann Peeble’s song Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home, it felt like the newly restored ceiling of the fabled theatre might cave in from the heaviness of the moment.
Getting airplay and selling albums has become a difficult thing for rock bands since the fall of traditional FM radio. And soul music hasn’t found a place on the airwaves since the 1970s. But the road is a place where an artist can carve out his niche and steadily build a following by a grassroots effort. Mr. Haynes has been doing this for close to 30 years. Judging by the audience on Broadway last Thursday night, Warren is a guitar hero for the masses who crave the real thing.