George Clinton review: Fitting send off for grandmaster of funk
GEORGE CLINTON AND PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC, 4 1/2 of 5 stars
by Gabriel Wilder
Funk veteran George Clinton is set to retire from performing. Credit: Rizwan Omar
Enmore Theatre, April 20
A performance by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic is an experience like no other. The grandmaster of funk is able to take the party-like atmosphere of a festival and transfer it to any club or theatre, saving the punter the hassle of travelling out of town and using portaloos.
This concert - his last in Sydney, as the 77-year-old veteran is set to retire from performing - was no different. Like previous gigs, the stage was crammed with musicians to pump out classic funk jams and psychedelic rock tracks from Clinton's two groundbreaking 1970s collectives Parliament and Funkadelic.
Three young female backing singers, one wearing a lilac light on her head like an illuminated bindi, kept up choreographed dance moves for the entire two-and-half-hour show. They shared the stage with more than a dozen others, including a handful of original '70s P-funk band members and Clinton offspring.
The fact Clinton and the collective created Funkadelic to explore rockier terrain doesn't seem to phase audiences, who embraced Parliament's colossal grooves and the 10-minute guitar solo of Maggot Brain, a staple of the set.
At first glance, the stage set-up seemed like chaos. Many band members were dressed in clashing outfits and some seemed to be roaming around, but if these seasoned professionals needed any directing at all, Clinton, dressed all in white like a mystical leader, was there to give it. At times he took a rest on a red chair, centre stage, while the funk erupted around him. Although some of songs, Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof of the Sucker), seemed a little too slow, the energy never flagged and the lengthy show seemed to pass in minutes.
The depth of musical talent was staggering. Many of the musicians took turns on lead vocals: guitarist Garrett Shider and saxophone player Gregory Thomas gave soulful performances, before returning to pick up their instruments. Even the keyboard player Daniel Bedrosian, who was hidden in a corner, sang a rousing ballad. It was unfortunate that the female backing singers, when it came to their turn for solos, were buried in the mix, something that is depressingly common for female singers in Sydney.
The show ended with audience members getting on stage to dance with the band. At some point, Clinton had just slipped away. But with the audience cheering him on from start to finish, it seemed a fitting send-off to a legend of music.