TVD Live: The Magnificent Seven
at Tipitina’s, 9/22

PHOTOS: DAVID TRACER | The self-described “band of bandleaders” put on a show Friday night at Tipitina’s that was brimming with familial camaraderie, casual virtuosity, and infectious joy. The band features Dave and Tommy Malone on guitars and vocals, John “Papa” Gros on keyboards and vocals, and Mark Mullins on trombone and vocals. The unstoppable, deep-in-the-pocket rhythm section includes Rob Mercurio on bass, Raymond Weber on drums, and Michael Skinkus on percussion.

These seven musicians have such a deep catalog of songs to choose from that the audience was occasionally left baffled by some tunes and amazed at the inclusion of others. They started the show off with a bang with Sam and Dave’s classic, “You Got Me Hummin’.”

For many in the crowd, the show was as much about seeing the Malone brothers perform together as the intense musicianship of the other players, But Mullins, for one, was not going to be upstaged. He got right into the middle of the jam with a trombone solo loaded up from the start.

Elsewhere in the marathon, two-set show, Gros had his turn in the spotlight taking strong, percolating funk solos and singing lead. His take on The Band’s “Up On Cripple Creek” stood out as much for the strength of his vocals as for the spirited audience sing along.

A shout out is in order to Mullins for his vocal work as well. With so many musicians on board, he was able to put down his horn, stalk the stage, and emote like a soul singer. He absolutely tore up Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and crushed Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady.”

Like any New Orleans band, the rhythm section was the secret weapon. Mercurio barely moves while he plays, but his bass work meshed perfectly with the wild cymbal technique of Weber while Skinkus got a chance to really show off his chops in a high-energy, rock ‘n’ roll environment.

Dave and Tommy Malone have joined forces numerous times over decades of playing music. What stood out here were the differences in their soloing techniques. Dave is known in certain circles as “Tone Malone” and he brought soaring leads and patiently worked out patterns to the proceedings. Tommy has more of a jazz touch.

When they faced off on Derek and the Dominos’ guitar workout, “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad,” the brothers channeled Eric Clapton and Duane Allman within a syncopated groove those two greats probably never had a chance to experience.

Vocally, the brothers differ as well, but when they sing together it must be like how it was when they were teenagers first learning many the songs in their repertoire. Tommy’s lead on his own “Natural Born Days” brought poignancy at the perfect moment in the show.

Of course, songs by the Radiators figured prominently in the mix. Dave busted out a couple of lesser-known songs for the Fishhead faithful including a boisterous version of “Lila.” The encore, as it has been in the Magnificent Seven’s pervious three performances, was a searing, intense take on “Lucinda.” Though the Fishheads in the crowd knew it was going to segue into the Meters’ funk standard “Cissy Strut” was only icing on the cake.

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