After a series of shows over the winter/spring at The Maple Leaf to work on some new material, Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen brought their national tour back to their hometown with a show at the Zony Mash Beer Project in New Orleans, Louisiana on Friday night June 10th.
With the addition of The Absolute Monster Horns, the stage swelled to seven members as Cleary drove the troops through mixing of New Orleans R&B classics and originals as the crowd mixed and soaked up the tasty suds in the Zony Mash Brewery.
Opening with a Lee Dorsey number “Lottie Mo” Cleary and crew delivered the shaking, upbeat blues, giving a workout to the dancers in the audience. The group brought it to church next, amping the gospel groove which was led by bassist Cornell Williams who thumped and sang with gusto all evening. The group delivered two covers of Johnny Guitar Watson tunes during the evening. The first, “Lonely Man’s Prayer (Be With Me)” used vocal harmonies and the searing guitar solo from Michael MacDonald to bring cheers from the crowd while “Superman Lover” just rolled along at a funky stroll.
While Cleary played piano on the night, organ and key support were also provided by Nigel Hall who allowed Cleary to rock out a guitar during “Boneyard” which also featured funky drumming from AJ Hall. The horns took over for a killer sax solo and trumpet work during “Unnecessarily Mercenary” while the cover of Joey Gilmore’s “Last Two Dollars” had a cool relaxed groove reminiscent of The Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway”.
The song which proved to be the standout this evening was the outfit’s take on Professor Longhair’s classic “Tipitina”. Beginning with a piano solo that ranged far and wide from Cleary, the group then dropped into heavy percussion before the tune fully formed. Solos then were delivered from all involved as the musicianship shined brightly. This deconstructed version of the New Orleans classic was inventive, jazzy, Latin-tinged, and had the Crescent City bounce coursing through each note.
The band delivered a new original dedicated to the famous Zulu throws of New Orleans parades titled “Keep Your Hands Off My Coconuts” while fan favorite “When You Get Back” had the crowd cha-cha’ing all night long. The main set wrapped up with their take on The Meters “Just Kissed My Baby” before an encore that saw the group get funky with “Mo Hipper” thumping and bouncing into “Feel Like Funking It Up” as the night ended in full-on party fashion as Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen delivered for the hometown.