In the 90’s and early part of this century, I got deep into funk in my 20s. My obsession with Prince bled over to those who he worked with and were influenced by. I went and saw every possible variant of the P-Funk experience. I saw Maceo Parker, The Original P, and Bernie Worrell many times, and eventually saw Bootsy Collins perform also. My least favorite to see was George Clinton, though I went when he came to town. I drove him around during his time in town for one of those performances, and that gave me a lot of insight into why I enjoyed the others that came out of the group more than the Maggot Overlord himself.
Now, I am going to say this was my favorite George Clinton show, and there may be others that will have different takes on that. If you saw him in the 1970s and early 1980s, you will definitely have a different take. Some who have seen him in the last decade will have different opinions, as getting sober has allowed him to have shows where he is much more coherent on stage and in charge. This is my first time seeing him in about twenty years, so I never experienced any of the better moments.
I went into this show knowing what I was going to get, which was good musicianship, a lot of his offspring performing, and Clinton more or less being the master of ceremonies and spiritual guide of the Mothership. My hope was for an animated Clinton, one leading the band, and my only hope was for an intro to “Maggot Brain” that resonated and wasn’t half-hearted mumbling. I got all of that.
Early on Clinton came out front to get the crowd hyped up, he would stand and sit, and when he was up, the 82-year-old could really move. Shockingly so after what he has put his body through. He would sit a lot of the time, of course, but even when sitting, he was leading and in the moment. Young members of the group took their turn first, many of them related to Clinton and other members of the band past and present. One of them was Garret Shider, the son of Diaper Man Garry Shider. Garry was always the highlight of Clinton shows, and I am sure he was the highlight of shows back in the 1970’s. Garret took many of the prominent lead vocals over the night, as did Scottie Clinton, who is George’s stepdaughter. They performed some material off of the 2014 Funkadelic album (which is 3 and a half hours long), ‘first ya gotta Shake the Gate’. I found all of this very enjoyable, and they have been grooming this crew to take over the Mothership once its leader steps off the stage for the last time. It will be interesting to see where that goes. I would be all for this happening if they created some new music that was viable, and quite a bit of the music off that 2014 release is just that.
The old cats took up a lot of space on stage, proved that they still have it, and played with passion and so much joy on their faces. They have played these songs thousands of times and still truly enjoy them. On stage were Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, Michael “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton, Bennie Cowan, and Greg Boyer. Hampton did a scorching version of one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, “Maggot Brain” (and yes, I was very satisfied with the intro by Clinton). I nerded out over trombonist Greg Boyer, though. I used to see him play with Maceo Parker, and then he joined Prince’s band. He would, of course, also play with P-Funk in the 1970s. I thought he had retired, so it was very cool to see him on stage, and he looked and sounded great. I love being surprised.
The band would perform many of their popular hits, such as “One Nation Under a Groove”, “Flashlight”, “Freak of the Week,” and all of them. People got the songs they came to see. I wish we could have gotten another song or two off of Maggot Brain, and I was really hoping for him to do Prince’s “Erotic City”, but that was not to be. They did perform a cover of “Jump Around” from House of Pain that got the crowd going and closed out with “Atomic Dog” A generous set of music and a fun evening.