LIVE: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue @ Upstate Concert Hall, 7//15/15
Review by Greg Haymes
After tearing up a scorching rendition of Lenny Kravitz’s “Sistamamalover,” he grabbed the microphone and shouted to the crowd, “We partyin’, y’all.” His inflection was a bit ambiguous, however, and it was difficult to know whether it was a question or a declaration. Either way, it was moot.
Whenever Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is in town, we partyin’.
And his roof-raising performance at Clifton Park’s Upstate Concert Hall last week was even more party-hearty than his sold-out show at The Egg in January, 2014, because everybody had room to dance this time around. And let’s face it, it almost impossible to remain seated at a Trombone Shorty show.
From the opening instrumental blast of “Buckjump,” Andrews and his stellar, high-energy band Orleans Avenue, simply wailed. While so much of New Orleans’ jazz and R&B heritage is based around loose-as-a-goose playing underpinned by a solid rhythmic foundation, Orleans Avenue was perfectly skin-tight all-around, from the precise, percussive punctuations of the sax section (B.K. Jackson on tenor and the leather-lunged Dan Oestreicher on the big baritone) to the rip-snortin’ guitar of Pete Murano to the nailed-down groove of the rhythm section of bassist Michael Ballard (aka, Mike Bass) and manic drummer Joey Peebles.
Contrary to his nickname, Andrews is so much more than just a trombone player, although his ‘bone playing was exceptional, especially on an outrageous, go-for-the-throat instrumental treatment of Green Day’s “Brain Stew.” He also played trumpet with equal aplomb (and ferociousness) on the uber-funky “Vieux Carre” and the blues jam that segued seamlessly into the show-closing “Shortyville.” Most importantly, he’s developed into a superb, soulful vocalist, a talent he exhibited to its fullest on Allen Toussaint’s cautionary “On Your Way Down” and Raphael Saadiq’s “Long Weekend,” a sunny, bouncy, quintessential summer song with more than a touch of Earth, Wind & Fire to it.
And for their encore, they dipped into the classic Fat Tuesday repertoire for Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” (spiked with a taste of “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In”) as Andrews gleefully tossed the obligatory beads out into the clamoring crowd.
Led the heavenly soulful voice of Corey Frye, Chicago-based quintet the Main Squeeze set the mood for the night with their opening number, “Dr. Funk” (“They call me Dr. Funk ’cause I got what you need”). During their 50 minutes on stage, they also served up a spot-on version of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.,” but they hit their highwater mark with “Space Age Celebration,” an epic, cosmic track from their upcoming album, Mind Your Head, which sounded something like an updated take on Talking Book-era Stevie Wonder.
Yeah, we partyin’, y’all…
TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE SET LIST
The Craziest Things
Sistamamalover (Lenny Kravitz)
On Your Way Down (Allen Toussaint)
One Night Only
Brain Stew (Green Day)
Long Weekend (Raphael Saadiq)
Go to the Mrdi Gras (Professor Longhair)
THE MAIN SQUEEZE SET LIST
P.Y.T. (Michael Jackson)
Space Age Celebration
Where Do We Go?
Message to the Lonely