Galactic, a jazz/funk/hip-hop band from New Orleans, opened its tour in Milwaukee tonight with an enthusiastic crowd at Turner Hall. It will perform on Friday night at First Avenue in Minneapolis and on Saturday night at Park West in Chicago.
The show was overall high energy and inspired a lot of movement by audience members in front of the stage. This is always a good thing to see in Milwaukee, a city often accused of being filled with unenthused show-goers.
Galactic originally formed in 1994 as an eight-piece, but over the years has been pared down to a sextet. It hosts rotating vocalists, including Corey Glover, formerly of Living Colour and, most recently – and at Thursday night’s performance – singer Maggie Koerner.
Koerner, who performed about half of the numbers tonight, was indeed a highpoint of the performance. Her renditions of Dr. John’s "Quitters Never Win" and the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" were highly engaging.
Her cover of James Brown’s "It’s A Man’s World" was particularly appealing because she dedicated it to all the ladies in the house. She also rocked the band’s original song, "Heart Of Steel."
The New Orleans-based band did not once mention the cold Wisconsin weather, which was surprisingly refreshing. It was gracious and thanked the audience but otherwise had little banter with the crowd.
They were clearly more focused on the music and delivered almost two hours of non-stop crowd pleasers.
New Orleans is a magical place for many and often absorbs those originally planning to spend a short period of time there. Such was the case with members of Galactic.
Two of the members, guitarist Jeff Raines and bassist Robert Mercurio, moved to New Orleans to attend college and became caught up in the local music scene which included The Meters and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
They teamed up with notable drummer Stanton Moore and never left Crescent City. Since then, they have consistently released records since 1996. Over the years, the band’s sound has expanded to include elements of other genres including hip-hop and electronica.
The NOLA party band is known for inviting guest musicians on stage and extensive touring. It has shared the stage with B.B. King and The Roots, among others.
The latest disc, "Carnivale Electricos," was released in 2012. This was Galactic's first tribute to Carnival (the season of celebration which includes Mardi Gras).
They drew from a variety of past recordings tonight.
The performance this evening at Turner Hall was many things, including a taste of New Orleans, a prelude to Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday on March 4 this year – and an all-out sizzling experience that ignited a segment of the city, even if just for a couple of hours.
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