George Clinton And Funkadelic/Parliament

Kentish Town Forum, London on Saturday 26 July 2014

There are some artists who need very little in the way of introduction – those for whom superlatives aren't quite enough, such is the scope of their recording career. George Clinton is one such artist. Now touring with a collective billed as Parliament-Funkadelic, Clinton has seemingly eschewed the recording studio in favour of recreating his illustrious back catalogue under both bands, a decision, which on tonight's evidence is proving to be an inspired choice.

Whilst many musicians fall into the laziness of nostalgia as they reach their formative years, the 73-year-old funk icon demonstrates an energy and infectious enthusiasm, buoyed by his extraordinary band, who blend a thrilling cocktail of funk, jazz and psychadelia for nearly three hours. Given that there appears to be a revolving cast of some 20 musicians onstage, gleefully orchestrated by Clinton throughout the night, the technicality and musicianship on display is phenomenal amongst the loosely organised chaos.

Although Clinton spends much of his time working the crowd, ever the showman, and encouraging his band to reach new highs throughout a set packed full of exhilarating peaks, when he takes centre stage, he propels proceedings onto a higher plain with his raspy, soulful voice, most notably on a re-working of Parliament's 'Testify', which sees Clinton take on the role of gospel preacher,  leading the band into a thrilling jam, which could have lasted most of the night and not come anywhere close to being boring.

Principally a crowd pleaser, such is his warmth and enthusiasm for his audience, Clinton leads his band into a number of his classic hits such as 'One Nation Under A Groove', 'Not Just Knee Deep' and 'Atomic Dog', with the latter resulting in a stage invasion, further filling the already overly-busy stage. As previously referenced, despite the crowd-pleasing setlist, there is no danger of the band phoning it in, as they play with such vibrancy to assuage any fears of rotten, tired nostalgia.

Around about the mid-point of the evening, one member of Clinton's band leads the audience into a rousing chant of "ain't no party like a p-funk party, because a p-funk party don't stop", which neatly summarises Clinton's aesthetic and where he's at creatively right now. Whilst new music may be thin on the ground, his creativity is still bursting at the seams on stage. And that party they speak of? It's the best party in town right now.

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article by: Craig Jones

published: 29/07/2014 12:15