Lubriphonic, The Top Hat, Missoula, MT – 3/8
Photo by Matt Riley
If there is one thing you could say about the Chicago based funk-blues collective Lubriphonic, it’s that it is a band in motion. Last fall Lubriphonic released The Gig Is On, its third album, which garnered a positive review in the current issue of Relix Magazine and the group has been on the road non-stop, playing shows and festivals creating new music as it criss-crosses the country.
On this Fat Tuesday in Missoula, the usual seven piece was short their trombone player Norman Palm as he was off with his Dad’s doo-wop band. So with a two piece instead of a trio of horn players the music might have taken on a different sound or mood, but Charles Prophet set aside his usual alto sax for a tenor and the complementary sounds he produced with Leon Q. Allen on trumpet was more than enough.
Opening the show with “Pack It Up” the intense guitarmanship of Giles Corey caught the crowd perfectly. Building from a rocking sound to a full on funkafied number, this was just a preview of things to come. Corey then directed the group through a gauntlet of older songs like “Chalk Train” (from their 2008 self-release Soul Solution ), which featured some powerful lines from the five-string bass of Pennal (PJ) Johnson. Andrew Toombs, the keyboardist, was all smiles as the venue provided a Hammond B3 to complement his much lighter and road friendly Yamaha M08. Toombs’s fingers dashed from organ to keys and back, sometime simultaneously creating backdrops and funk solos throughout. Again the fast and ripping guitar work of Corey supported by the horn section and ever changing drum work of Rick King, helped created a funk-blues with catchy jammed out intros and full-on spacey elongated endings. Corey’s vocals and persona onstage gave a fun and light vibe to the show. Never sticking to the album’s version of songs, the improvisation of this band was particularly noteworthy during a masterful “The Chicken is Worth More Alive Than Dead” from The Gig Is On.
Sometimes funk and blues can become repetitive and songs can blend together into one sound but even as Corey directed seamless segues between tunes, each song retained its own ear pleasing feel. Being Fat Tuesday the venue was decked out in Mardi Gras gear and beads and grass hats were thrown onto the stage from cheering fans. The ending of the show featured one of the most unique covers I’ve heard a band perform, in the form of “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” For a moment I was perplexed and then I was transfixed as I listened to this very popular and slow rocking song being performed with the power, speed and enthusiasm of a James Brown track.
Always on the road with multiple shows and festivals coming up throughout the spring and summer, Lubriphonic is heading forward. With plenty of new songs played this night that Corey had written on the road, don’t be surprised if another new album is released in the coming year. Always a band on the move, Lubriphonic is headed in the right direction, leaving exhausted and pleased dancing fans in the group’s wake.