New Daisy Theater
January 24, 2007
Words by Tom Speed and photos by Josh Mintz / photosbyjosh.com
When Galactic rolled into Memphis for another appearance at the New Daisy Theater, it marked the beginning of a new tour. And while they weren’t breaking any new ground, they did have their friend Papa Mali in tow to lend a hand on vocals, guitar and gris-gris.
The combination proved potent.
For whatever reason, be it fresh legs, the launching of a the tour, the inclusion of Papa Mali or guest saxophonist Art Edmaiston of the Gamble Brothers Band, the G-Men were clicking on all cylinders and playing with the kind of energy the Daisy hasn’t seen on the band’s past few stops.
Opening several of the band’s shows on the current tour, Malcolm “Papa Mali” Welbourne opened the show with a lean set of greasy swamp blues. His rhythm section of Robb Kidd on skins and Casandra Faulconer provided a solid backbeat for Mali’s voodoo excursions on slide guitar and growling vocals. His set featured selections from his excellent Thunder Chicken record as well as the newly released Do Your Thing. It was a short set, including a guest shot from keyboardist Al Gamble on the Isaac Hayes –penned title track, but Papa Mali was not done for the night.
After Galactic loosened up with a string of their patented Nuevo funk excursions, out strode Papa Mali, Houseman-style, to provide some vocals on “Bottle Up and Go” and “Hercules.”
After a succinct but successful take on “The Moil” the band invited up Edmaiston for “Backtalk.” The interplay between Edmaiston and Galactic sax man Ben Ellman proved exciting as the two egged each other on. The set closed with a damn near head-banging rendition of “Bongo Joe” into Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Galactic’s latest penchant for getting the Led out seems to suit them well, with Ellman mocking Robert Plant’s screeching vocals and Stanton Moore pounding out the Bonzo beat.
The second set saw a fluid presentation of Galactic at its best playing new tunes, a Meters cover, bring Edmaiston and Papa Mali out again for the set closing sequence of “I’m A Ram” and a spooky take on “Guilded Splinters.”
Due to an all-ages show early curfew, the set was abbreviated and the planned “Two Clowns” was cut, but the band came back for a quick encore of “Licorice” from Stanton Moore’s recent solo album, III.
Galactic is working on and off on a new hip-hop flavored album, but on this night the recipe was two parts funk, one part soul, and a healthy dose of swamp blues. Tasty.