The P-Funk has been “funketizing the galaxy” since the 60’s and still continues to throw one of the best parties around. B.B. Kings seemed like an ideal venue to see George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic last Friday in New York. It was the perfect party atmosphere for the perfect party band. It reminded me of a more mature version of that scene from the 1994 Jeremy Piven/David Spade movie, PCU, where Mr. Clinton and the P-Funk’s bus breaks down near a frat house and decide to just play a show there that evening.
George Clinton Can Still Throw a Party, After All These Years
The crowd was as diverse as a New York City crowd could get, but got along as if they had always known each other. Like any good house party, the band didn’t have a black-out; Mr. Clinton just walked on stage and the celebration began.
Donned in a stylish tan zoot-suit and matching fedora, George Clinton acted as the ringmaster of the evening’s concert rather than the talent. It seems that years of soulful, “funketized “wailing sprinkled with a bit (…a lot) of drug use does NOT do the vocal chords well. His low, Barry White-like speaking voice and smooth, gravel-y soulful singing voice have devolved into Harvey Fierstein with a cold.
Nevertheless, the man is 72 years old and still has more energy performing than most men twenty years younger than him. His new position as bandleader was fitting, and honestly, more enjoyable to watch. To replace Clinton, the P-Funk called on the vocal stylings of a younger man, who no doubt was hand-selected by Clinton as a protégé.
The band members have been in and out of this band playing together for decades, so it’s not wonder that they were spectacular. The stand-out acts were the the trumpet player (who brought the house down with his solo), the bassist (whose lowest string on his 6-string bass rumbled my brain) and the lead guitarist (who eventually used the mic stand as a slide for his guitar during a solo).
At the beginning of the show the sound was very off – I don’t think B.B. King’s was prepared to monitor a 8-10 piece funk band prone to improvise. I was standing behind the soundboard operator when 2 guys jumped over the wall in front of me to assist. The sound issue was handled by the second 15 minute jam. Clinton’s epic jams were only interrupted by the occasional call and response from the crowd, or a notable guest appearance.
His grand-daughter, an aspiring Nikki-Minaj-esque rapper, took the stage to spit her rhymes while grandpa was handed a joint from the crowd and lit up. Thanksgiving with the Clintons must be fascinating. The only truly notable singer of the whole evening almost stole the whole show with her cover of “Crazy” by Gnarles Barkley.
The air was flooded with the smell of ganja and the sounds of funk, as I tried to beat the packed-in crowd from bottle-necking at the door during the last song. I took one last moment to look back and take-in the band before heading back out to the sounds of honking cabs.
For a second, I was a bit disappointed with the fact that I didn’t get to see George Clinton “perform,” but I quickly realized the Parliament Funkadelic is going to outlive each member of that band. It’s a movement more than a single act. I’m just glad I got to see them with their original band leader.
Article by Mark Ayesh