Fred Galliano brings the beats

Rating: NNNNNMidway through the third extended balophone solo, it became clear that Thursday's touchdown by Frederic Galliano and his Afro-Parisian.

Rating: NNNNN

Midway through the third extended balophone solo, it became clear that Thursday’s touchdown by Frederic Galliano and his Afro-Parisian house crew was something special.

The Reverb gig was one of the rare times that the often-talked-about live electronic music has actually worked.

There were no idle jam sessions over flimsy beats, or drummers trying desperately to hammer out 118 beats per minute. Instead, in front of a tiny crowd who slowly got their groove on, the French producer subtly brought his beats alive.

Joined by a four-piece band including Malian griot Hadja Koutaye and a Senegalese dancer who casually wandered out on stage every 20 minutes, Galliano conducted the proceedings from behind his sampler. He would bang out live rhythms, tweaking them on a mini mixing desk before turning them over to his band to fill out.

The use of live kora, balophone, guitar, organ and percussion was predictably jazzy, but it was also straight out of clubland. Galliano’s band played the breaks live, fitting them into the groove as through they were samples while Kouyate wailed over top.

The awkwardness of most live electronic breakdowns was nowhere to be seen. In fact, if you closed your eyes you could easily have confused it with a sleek DJ set, not a live gig. No wonder most of the sparse crowd spent the gig watching the stage rather than dancing.

FREDERIC GALLIANO AND THE AFRICAN DIVA, at Reverb, July 13. Tickets: $15. Attendance: 100. Rating: NNNN

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