Doctor Funkenstein himself brought along his mothership of performers for a night of funk rock fusion spanning across decades of his work.
Denizens of the Windy City came in full force and enthusiasm for a midweek funk rock show like none other. One could see fandom spanning three generations at the Southside music venue of Thalia Hall. Humans covered in rainbows and masks congregated, eager to take on funk maestro George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.
Before the mothership landed, Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf warmed up the engines of the night. This eight-piece funk rock band took no prisoners and showed right from the start that they are by no means just some opening number. Their three-piece brass section revved up the rhythm brought on by keys and a bright Danelectro guitar. Their bass lines have all the groove one could ever need while the drum fills pack tons of flavor.
At the helm stood Miss Velvet herself. In addition to her dynamite, Janis-Joplin-like wailing, and soulful singing, she took commanding presence of the house. This form of showmanship does not grow on trees these days.
Soon after, Chicagoans headed to the bar to grab a fresh drink as they could hear Clinton and P-Funk heading in for arrival.
No delay was spared to formal entrances: no curtain dropped, no MC introduction, no-preshow track played. In no time the stage filled with a kaleidoscope of fashions, instruments, performers, and talents. At the center of it all stood Mr. George Clinton, now at 76 years of age and showing no sign of gerontological ware.
An athletically cut woman graced the stage in silver lace and cape and took to the mic. Another backup singer’s face remained practically unable to be seen behind his colorful boa, big, cheap sunglasses, Super Mario hat, and fake mustache. A baritone vocalist migrated about in loose overalls. It was apparent that in the funky dimension from whence they came, fashion is what you make of it. And one can let their freak flag fly.
At the top of the set, we heard more modern hits like, “Get Low,” from the First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate, LP (2014). The group made sure to include all of the famed hits such as “Flash Light,” from Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977), “(Not Just) Knee Deep,” from Uncle Jam Wants You (1979), and, of course, the great funk staple, “Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker),” from the classic Mothership Connection album (1975).
Some notable deep cuts also took place. An eleven-minute guitar solo marked a stellar live rendition of “Maggot Brain” and the rock stomping, “Super Stupid,” slammed the house late in the set. Both of which songs originated on the early and influential Maggot Brain Parliament album (1971).
Clinton also displayed that the grand-daddy of funk continues to deliver new tricks up his sleeve. He and his ensemble circus rounded out the night with an elongated rendition of, “I’m Gon Make U Sick o’Me,” his latest single of this year.
Clinton and company are on tour virtually for the next five months. With new material and a tight, vibrant live show, it looks as though the mothership is not slowing down anytime soon.
Event Date: 31-JAN-2018