Photos by John Stephens / LMB NOLA
To close out a monster year, Galactic rang in 2013 in the familiar, friendly and legendary confines of Tipitina’s Uptown with a covers-heavy marathon show that took the packed house deep into the New Year after the ceremonial balloon drop. Right out of the gate, some of the international flavors recently infused into the band’s catalogue (from their early-2012 LP Carnivale Electricos) were showcased, such as the opening “Karate”, a marching band styled tune with a hefty brass punch. Over the past couple years, Living Colour frontman Corey Glover has become a mainstay in the band alongside Corey Henry and each took turns on lead vocal responsibilities throughout a night that notably included less instrumental tracks then your usual Galactic gig.
Starting at 11:30 p.m., the band’s masterfully-intense focus and always impressive level of professionalism was as evident as ever throughout the nearly four hour, highly-polished performance. Given the fact that many rare and debut covers made their way into the set, the quality of playing those tracks is both noteworthy and unsurprising given the band’s pedigree and track record at these kinds of shows. Saxophonist and producer Ben Ellman told me in an impromptu chat the night prior outside of d.b.a. (where Galactic side projects Gypsyphonic Disko and Good Enough for Good Times played on 12/30) that the band had gotten together for five hours of rehearsal at their studio. The extra work day paid off and fans putting down the hefty $71 price tag to ring in the New Year undoubtedly got their money’s worth.
Galactic extrapolates and distills so many of the sounds of the past and ongoing present in the Big Easy music scene as the (arguably) defining modern band in the city. The eighteen year-old band’s eclectic style, always-evolving sound/catalog and wide range of musical inspirations are always most fully exhibited at these special occasion shows (lumping NYE in with the annual Mardi Gras gigs and Halloween). Tracks like the brash and bawdy “Move Fast” (a fierce rap tune featuring Mystikal on the new LP and performed by Henry on this night) contrasted with the rowdy and blastoff party funk of “Garbage Truck” in much the same way they would seamlessly mesh on a stroll past porches blaring music or on the curb awaiting Mardi Gras floats during carnival. Locked in every bit as tightly as they were on their longtime set staples, covers like the show-highlighting “I Am The Walrus” (fitting in perfectly after “Auld Lang Syne”), a righteously delivered “Showdown” (Electric Light Orchestra) and the singalong-rousing “It’s All Over Now” all tore the roof off and arrived as pleasant, well-placed, standout surprises amidst the relentless onslaught of classic Galactic fare.
If you’ve visited the hallowed concert hall at 501 Napoleon Avenue in NOLA then you already know that a visit at Tipitina’s itself is a special occasion in itself. Throw in the fact that it was New Years Eve with the band that arguably serves as the venue’s modern home team playing a rather epic setlist (you can see it below), and it felt like we had undoubtedly made the right decision amongst many enticing options on NYE. For me personally, it was my first time back in the house after moving from NOLA in late-May after countless times in the room. God willing I’ll be back for years to come to visit Tip’s during a Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Voodoo Experience, weddings and/or New Years visit. Part of the charm of this venue (and city) is the knowledge that, despite the passing of time and inevitable changes, it will more-than-likely stay more or less the same and retain its almost indefinable charm and always-intoxicating allure. Add this night to the substantial pile of well-spent and memorable occasions on the corner of Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas. Whether a four-block walk (as it was for a couple years) or a 2,000 mile flight, a chance to see Galactic play Tip’s is well-worth the trip.
SETLIST: Galactic @ Tipitina’s Uptown, New Orleans, LA || Monday, December 31, 2013
I’m Tired (Glover)
You Don’t Know (Glover)
NYE—Auld Lang Syne
I Am the Walrus (Glover) *The Beatles
How Many More Times (Glover) *Led Zeppelin
Heart of Steel (Glover)
Hey Na Na (Glover)
Let’s Do It Together (Glover)
Boom Boom > (Glover) *John Lee Hooker
Move Fast (Glover + Henry)
Showdown (Glover) *Electric Light Orchestra
Cult of Personality (Glover) *Living Colour
Ooh Nah Nay (Henry)
Goin’ Down Slowly (Glover) *Allen Toussaint
Can I Be Your Main Squeeze (Henry) *Chuck Carbo / Rob Swift
Black Eyed Pea
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (Glover) *Paul Simon
It’s All Over Now (Henry) *Bobby Womack & Shirley Womack
Galactic took the stage at 11:30 pm and played just a shade past 3 a.m. Keyboardist Robert Walter joined the band during the third set. The New Years countdown could be seen by fans on the Professor Longhair mural clock over the stage and on an iPad with a digital countdown timer being shown to the audience by Corey Glover.
* Denotes cover song.
Henry = Corey Henry
Glover = Corey Glover
^ Mynameisjohnmichael (with Theresa Andersson on bass) opened the show.