Galactic, with Cyril Neville, Corey Henry and Orgone.
Friday, March 18, 2011, at
The Granada hosted a funk-filled evening on Friday with New Orleans powerhouse Galactic headlining the evening. The band brought a number of guests, including Cyril Neville (from the Meters), Corey Henry from the Rebirth Brass Band, and Orgone.
The California opener kicked off the evening in front of a pretty small crowd, which was a bit of a disappointment. (I've been a fan of Orgone since The Killion Floor and was sad that they didn't get a little more support.) A couple of highlights from the hour-long set included "Who Knows Who" and the more laid-back "Time Is Tight." By the time their set had ended, the crowd had filled out and seemed primed for one funky evening.
Galactic started off with an oldie, "Funky Bird," a solid strutter from their first album that set the tone for the evening. Most of the songs featured Ben Ellman on tenor and baritone sax, and this was no exception. Corey Henry also delivered a nice trombone solo, and he seemed incredibly in sync with the band. The group brought out Neville for the second number, having him sing lead vocals. He fronted the band on about six songs throughout the evening, and I have to admit that he didn't really add much to the mix. His vocals were extremely hard to understand, and every track he sang on seemed to be a little boring compared with ones he didn't. I understand that Galactic wants to give props to the guy who's been there, and a hometown New Orleans guy, too; his songs simply weren't all that impressive.
Besides numbers with Neville, most of the evening's tracks were instrumental, but a few did feature Henry rapping over some backing beats, courtesy of Galactic's extremely tight rhythm section. Henry's rapping -- which was pretty darn good -- was certainly mediocre when compared with his trombone skills. He played some of the quickest rhythmic patterns I've ever heard on trombone. (His quote of the horn line on Outkast's "SpottieOttieDopaliscious" was ... dopalicious, of course.)
The band carried on with a few more featuring Neville, then harkened back to the Houseman days with "Go Go." They also included a couple of cuts from the most recent album Ya-Ka-May, "Cineramascope" and "You Don't Know." The latter was particularly good, featuring a slow-cooked groove that had more than a few heads bobbin'. As the night came to a close, they played a couple of more throwback numbers and ended with a huge encore that included a mammoth solo from longtime drummer Stanton Moore. He brought drums out for the entire band to play on, all the while keeping the beat perfectly. The musical energy that Galactic has live simply doesn't come through as well on their studio releases, and this is probably a testament to why they still have a spirited following 15 years later.