As they jump from bluesy jams to keyboard ballads, straight-ahead rock to raucous harmonica solos, TLG lacks neither energy nor high spirits. Though Mathis at times would play his bass like a guitar, with complex fills and extraneous notes, it took away nothing from the band as a whole – he has settled into his role now, and feels comfortable playing out a bit. Rager, steady as a rock sitting behind his drum kit, allows the rest of his band to feel comfortable going off when they feel the need.
The set-closing harmonica solo by Garrod ended the 75-minute opening set on a higher note than could have been expected. As he stood atop his piano stool with arm upraised, blowing on his harp for dear life, the Terminal 5 audience grew excited for what was still to come.
TLG setlist: 7th Story, Gasaholic, Easy to Be Your Lover, Georgie P, Training a Cloud, Bastard Brother, Miss Mae’s, Carter Hotel, Fallen Angel, New Shoes, Germination Seed, Sex in the 70’s, Let Us Go
Galactic entered casually from both ends of the stage, and Ben Ellman could not hold back giving a New Orleans “Who Dat!?” which was quickly and happily returned by the New York crowd. Joined by Corey “Boe Money” Henry on trombone, the quintet-turned-sextet came ready for a long and eventful show. To celebrate the release of their new album, Ya-Ka-May (now available on Anti Records), the group was also joined by NOLA legend Cyril Neville, who lent his percussion chops and unmatched vocal soul to the majority of the more than two-hour set.
The light show was turned up a couple notches for Galactic’s set, and for once in Terminal 5 the neon-light dance party fit the bill as the electric jazz and funk had everyone in the room bobbing heads and shuffling feet. Galactic, not generally known for any individual member standing out on stage, meshed perfectly with the two guest performers, who each had their turn at center stage. Switching between lead vocals, trombone, and the occasional front-and-center rap, Boe Money’s fire on stage should have come with a “Caution” sign. It was a new flavor of Galactic as he made his way through the crowd and ended up on top of the bar. And as he blew his horn in the crowd, all 2,000 New Yorkers ate it up like they’d never tasted Creole before.
Neville remained reserved throughout, but when his voice rang, it hung heavy. At times he stood calmly behind his congas, playing a simple beat to keep it all moving, and at others he’d grab the microphone, walk up to Boe Money and go back and forth exchanging melodies. But without the usual five, Ellman, Stanton Moore, Richard Vogel, Jeff Raines and Robert Mercurio, the night would have been seriously lacking. Together they explored a heavier realm than normal, escaping from the upbeat funk and at times diving into darker waters.
To complete the TRL (Throwdown Request Live) section of the evening, Tea Leaf Green’s Garrod and Clark joined the group to honor the fan’s vote, and broke into The Band’s version of Don’t Do It, with Clark on vocals. But that must not have satisfied the super-groups taste for a good cover song, because as soon as that one was done, Garrod grabbed the mic for an equally uplifting Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’.
As an encore, just to complete the night, yet another guest was brought on stage – this time a lesser known but equally talented Butterscotch on the Beatbox – before the entire band broke into When the Saints Go Marching In, in honor of their soon-to-be hometown-heroes.
Set: Blackbird Special, Balkan Wedding, Can I Be Your Main Squeeze?, Tuff Love, You Don’t Know, Heart Of Steel, No More Okeydoke, Boe Money, Paid In Full, Dump Truck, Wild Man, Don’t Do It*, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?*, Ooh Nah Nay, Gossip, Bacchus, Cineramascope
E: From The Corner To The Block > When The Saints Go Marching In
*with Josh Clark and Trevor Garrod (Tea Leaf Green)
More photos from Adam Kaufman (double-click for full-size):