written by Chris Familton
It is hard to dispute the legendary status of George Clinton with his contributions to music over the last forty years. The man who started in 60s doo-wop led two of the legendary funk/soul groups – Parliament and Funkadelic – and provided a treasure trove of samples and beats for the generations of hip hop artists that followed.
Clinton is currently touring an amalgam of his various bands, a career retrospective if you will. Though the band members range from fresh faces to thirty year stalwarts there was still a cohesiveness to the group and an authentic funk that had the Metro moving for over three hours. The one slight downer was the shallow involvement of Clinton himself who didn’t appeared onstage until half an hour into the show and who looked decidedly unlike his trademark persona of rainbow hair and outlandish clothing. He proceeded to amble around the stage adding vocals when he felt the urge and when he did it was in a coarse, gravelly growl. Musically this mattered little though as we were treated to hits from all corners of his funk spectrum including Aqua Boogie, Flashlight, Dr Funkenstein and Sentimental Journey.
With a revolving door policy on stage there was a constantly changing vibe of players that ensured the three hours felt more like two. Comedy was also a strong factor in keeping things interesting with various pimp-like characters playing up to the crowd and adding to the party, carnival atmosphere that Clinton shows are famous for.
One of the highlights of the evening was an epic rendition of Maggot Brain with Michael Hampton (lead guitarist since 1973) overcoming some early guitar issues to deliver that legendary, soaring psychedelic solo that felt like it could have stretched on forever. Two quite different backup singers worked hard through the set to bring a female perspective to the masculine swagger with Kendra Foster the much better singer of the two with her sassy solo spots. Kim Manning on the other hand was a much better lingerie model and roller skater than vocalist it has to be said.
The night was brought to a close with One Nation Under A Groove and Atomic Dog raising the celebratory atmosphere even further. Though Clinton’s lack of involvement was a disappointment the band showed just how infectious his brand of funk can be with any resistance to dance being futile.
this review first appeared in Drum Media