Sunday, July 24, 2005

George Clinton, Forum

Some critics seem to have written him off, but the star-child keeps rockin’ hard as ever. Old fans may have got blasé, but they have merely forgotten; no-one does it like this lot. It don’t matter; any style they want; soul, funk, rock, doo-wop, hip-hop, they put anyone to the test. Although known primarily for their late-seventies disco hits, Parliament-Funkadelic encompass so much more they practically have their own corner of music. Two of the band sported AC/DC t-shirts, clear evidence that good, hard, show-stopping rock’n’roll matters to these guys just as much as beautiful vocal harmonies, booty-shaking bass lines or multi-layered horn-lines. George, dressed in a patchwork silk dress-shirt and with his multi-coloured locks tied up to show a subtle union jack, still helms the proceedings, but they go on quite contently with or without him actually on the stage. With musical virtuosos like keyboardist Bernie Worrell and guitarist Michael Hampton and a host of absurdly talented youngsters, the sheer exuberance, as they ripped through a practically bottomless back-catalogue, was gobsmaking. No question, these guys show how it’s done.

Named Parliament-Funkadelic for the occasion, instead of the usual P-Funk All-Stars, (due to the presence of Bernie Worrell, the name’s copyright-holder) the extended band (10 members? 20? You can never tell) blasted Kentish Town for over three hours. Although the name change didn’t herald much change in the usual set, they’re still imaginative, a female violinist, for example, playing the classic Maggot Brain solo, note for screaming note. How much longer Clinton, 66 last Friday, sporting some serious bags under his eyes and looking occasionally like he might like to keel over, can continue is a fascinating question. On this evidence he’ll still be out there with zimmer frame and (atomic) guide dog, leading both band and crowd in a lesson in how to party y’all. Towards the end the band filled the stage with most of the prettiest girls from the crowd. They all vanished backstage where, in the hey-day, the party went on for days. George himself, though, looked more like he was going to bed.