Galactic, Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON – 6/29
Since its humble beginnings fifteen years ago, Galactic has evolved into a musical powerhouse that mixes New Orleans funk with elements of hip hop, rock, jazz, and much more. Their ground-floor involvement in Bonnaroo, relentless dedication to touring, and recent appearances on HBO’s Treme have minted them as a recognizable and consistently enjoyable brand. Having devoted much of the last few years to their collaboration with various rappers, the five members of the group returned to their roots with 2010’s Ya-Ka-May and have been continuing their road domination ever since.
Corey Henry of the Rebirth Brass Band, another NOLA institution, joined Galactic on trombone and made his presence felt early and often. Trading licks with saxophonist Ben Ellman on “Cineramascope,” Henry had the crowd losing its collective mind with his powerful attack. He and Ellman commanded the focus for much of the night, as they confidently jockeyed at center stage.
Another guest with no hint of shyness, Corey Glover of Living Color fame, added vocals to a number of songs throughout the set. With his flamboyant style and expansive range, the NYC native led the band through selections of his and their material. Although he put on quite a spectacle, the audience responded much more favorably to the instrumental sections of the show, for it was there that the Galactic boys could sink in and truly strut their stuff.
Drummer Stanton Moore, famous in his own right as one of the crescent city’s finest players, set the energetic tone all evening long. His loose and relaxed spirit lent the songs a natural groove while his flourishes erupted in visceral luster. Ellman was hard not to watch, swaying in time as he blasted out backing riffs and solos, and Rich Vogel textured the tunes with thick organ bursts and laid back leads. The band, comprised of consummate professionals, was plainly at home on stage.
As the set drew on, jam-laden takes on ‘This Is The Way We Roll’ and ‘Manteca’ kept the dancefloor bumping. Local guests The Heavyweights Brass Band pushed the horniness over the top, and Glover offered his finest take of the night with a hot version of ‘Total Destruction To Your Mind’. For all their talents and accomplishments, the modesty still shines through the members of Galactic. They expressed their gratitude to the crowd for coming out on a Wednesday and sent everyone home smiling, that old N’awlins flavor still working its magic.