Wednesday, April 15, 2009
(For the setlist, scroll to the bottom)
They're back! One good thing about living down in the South is that Galactic comes around pretty often, and we've been able to see them several times since we moved here.
A typical Galactic show is a smashing good time, but in recent years they've made a point of bringing special guests on tour with them to expand their sound in new directions. The past couple tours featured various MCs rapping as the band explored the realm of hip-hop. For this tour, they've once again moved in a new direction, bringing a couple of virtuoso horn players to delve deeper into the soundscape of modern New Orleans.
The first couple songs were just Galactic without the guest horn players. They started off by shaking the house with a concise, pile-driving "Moil" and then kicking back into the easy groove of "Linthead".
And then it was really showtime.
To kick off the first triple-horn segment of the show, they launched into a raucous, soaring version of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's "Blackbird Special", featuring a uber-climactic three-way round-robin horn solo that had the crowd literally screaming for more.
Next up was "D-Boy", a title track from one of Corey Henry's other projects, the New Birth Brass Band. New Birth puts a modern twist on New Orleans brass-band music, and "D-Boy" is a far cry from the traditional second-line styles of Rebirth and Dirty Dozen, with its bubbling rhythm and bouncy low-end piano line making it sounding more like music to some kind of dark-alley action-spy video game. Corey and Shamarr floored the crowd with an epic trombone-sax duel on this one.
"Tuff Love" followed, a slower-tempo number with a cascading horn line and nasty guitar riff that conjures up images of a fancy low-rider cruising the streets of Vegas in the 1970s. Shamarr delivered a huge trumpet solo.
Then came "Teknochek Collision", another in Galactic's collection of Balkan-style covers, thanks to Ben Ellman's fascination with eastern European stylings. This one comes from a relatively new group from New York City called Slavic Soul Party. You can hear "Teknochek Collision" on their website - recently it was the second song in the site's audio mix. Needless to say, the horns had a field day with this one, and this wrapped up the first triple-horn segment of the show at the one-hour mark.
Ben returned to the stage for a slamming "Doublewide", one of the band's most unique and quintessential songs. Unfortunately this was the shortest version we've ever heard, as it seems like they've decided the composition can stand on its own with no real soloing of any kind. It segued directly into a rockin' cover of Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love", as it typically does these days, with Rich playing Robert Plant's vocal parts on the Hammond B3. Then came another new song, "Saltbaked", reportedly penned by Jeff Raines. A typically muscular Galactic-style funk-rock number, "Saltbaked" was not particularly memorable on first listen.
And then...it was showtime again. Enter Shamarr and Corey for the climactic home stretch.
First up was another new song in the Galactic rotation, labeled "Boban" on the stage setlist. This title likely refers to Boban Markovic, a musical giant in Balkan brass band music. It's not clear if this song is a cover of a Boban Markovic song, or if it's a new Galactic song written as a tribute. Either way it has that Eastern European flair, and this version featured another fierce round-robin horn crescendo.
Finally it was time for some of that classic old-school Galactic-style jazzy funk, with the title track to their second album, "Crazyhorse Mongoose". This song gains some serious power with the addition of the extra horns, and it was almost like hearing it in a whole new way. Corey Henry got the spotlight for this one, and he tried to put his own kind of crazy in "Crazyhorse", climbing down from the stage and trekking through the crowd blasting an extended trombone solo all the way back to the bar.
Back to the music...after the craziness of Crazyhorse subsided, the rumbling thunder and wailing fury of the "Garbage Truck" brought yet another sonic assault. One of Galactic's heaviest songs (thanks to that rhythm section), "Garbage Truck" also received a significant lift from the extra horns, and the raw, pulverizing power had enthusiastic fans jumping up and down, headbanging and pumping fists like it was a heavy metal show or something.
Finally, to cap off the set, Shamarr and Corey grabbed the mics for a rousing version of the title track to Galactic's most recent album, the hip-hop flavored "From the Corner to the Block". And that's where things got really crazy!
Needless to say, we had an awesome time, and Galactic remains one of our top 5 favorite bands. We haven't been able to find a recording of the show yet, but there are several recent Galactic shows available for free bittorrent download on the Galactic page at Etree.
To recap, here's the setlist from 4/15/09 at the Lyric Theatre in Oxford, Mississippi:
Sagg Shootin' His Arrow
Doublewide (no solos) >
Whole Lotta Love
*From The Corner To The Block
*%Buckit Like A Horse
*with Shamarr Allen and Corey Henry on trumpet and trombone
%with members of Shamarr Allen's Underdawgs on trumpet and trombone
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