It's not like Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews and his 10-piece Orleans Avenue backing crew needed any help in their second "Austin City Limits" taping. The New Orleans funk shooting stars had lit up ACL Live for more than an hour with blasts of horns, guitars, vocals and percussion when they brought out a special guest on two songs. But Cyril Neville definitely took them to another level.
Building the bridge between this modern-day juggernaut and the historical legacy of the Neville Brothers was a natural move, but it underscores how smart Andrews is, and how aware he is of the roots of his music. Cyril will turn 70 in a few weeks, but that was hard to imagine watching him perform "No More Okedoke" and "Fiyo on the Bayou" with Andrews and his crew, singing loud and moving proud like he hadn't yet turned 30.
The surprise cameo put a cap on a blockbuster night. Among the tapings I've attended over the past five years, very few have bottled up this much raw energy. Foo Fighters, probably. The Tedeschi Trucks band, likely. Add Shorty to that short list.
A lot of the credit goes to his bandmates. Saxophonists Dane Oestreicher and BK Jackson share the front line with Andrews, blasting out brass bursts and often dancing in step with bassist Mike Bass-Bailey. Add guitarists Joshua Connelly and Pete Murano, drummers Alvin Ford Jr. and Joey Peebles, percussionist Weedie Braimah, and backing vocalists Tracci Lee and Chrishira Perrier, and the stage was constantly alive with a maelstrom of activity.
The 12-song set drew from a range of the Trombone Shorty catalog, including "Where It At?" and "Here Come the Girls" from last year's "Parking Lot Symphony," "Long Weekend" from 2013's "Say That to Say This," the instrumental show-opener "Buckjump" from 2011's "For True," and "Something Beautiful" from 2010's "Backatown." As a whole, though, the show felt more like it coalesced into one giant suite of glorious noise.
During the encore tune "Do to Me," Andrews finally took that energy right into the crowd, which had responded to his band's spirit with their own boisterous support all night. Weaving his way into the middle of a pogo-ing throng on the floor, he briefly brought everything down — both musically and physically, coaching the crowd members to crouch along with him as the band laid back for about a minute. Then, right on cue with his "one-two-three-four" countoff, the band and the crowd exploded, leaping into action again for a glorious finale that, fittingly, included an excerpt of "The Saints Go Marching In." By end of the night, everyone wanted to be in that number, indeed.