Mandrill: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

Although the clothing is less outrageous and its lineup of players has shifted over the years, '70s funk outfit Mandrill hasn't changed all that much. At the group's show at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre on Saturday night, there were crisp vocal harmonies, plenty of multi-genre grooves built on a solid foundation of funk, and a few funny hats, for old times' sake.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Mandrill is still led by the Wilson brothers -- Carlos, Ric and Lou -- who started the group back in 1968. They were joined onstage by a fourth sibling, Wilfredo, who became a member of Mandrill several years after its inception, along with new, young players.

After sets from the Impressarios and Plunky and Oneness, Mandrill hit the stage and warmed things up with a few of the Latin-jazz-tinged instrumentals from the more mellow side of its catalogue.

But a loud contingent in the back of the venue, perhaps worried that there wouldn't be enough opportunity to use the whistles and tambourines they brought from home, started shouting, "Bring the funk!" Lou Wilson responded with "Here comes the funk!" and led the band into the tight soul of "Positive Thing," the doo-wop-flavored "House of Wood" and the dance-floor funk of "Git It All."

The group ended with its biggest single, "Fencewalk," the electric guitar-and-horn-heavy cut that has been sampled by tons of hip-hop artists, and an encore of the airy "Ape Is High," which played like a declaration from the band, insisting that it is still tops.


By J. Freedom du Lac |  June 21, 2009; 9:43 PM ET Live Last Night
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