On Monday the 6th April, George Clinton and his Parliament & Funkadelic Mothership Connection Circus will descend upon Byron Bay Bluesfest to headline the Mojo Stage. If you weren’t already convinced this is a must-see show then check out our selection of highlights from the Dr. Funkenstein’s swinging show at the Enmore in Sydney, and you will see why Monday night’s event is not to be missed. Dig!
THE LANDING OF THE MOTHERSHIP
Back in the seventies George Clinton would appear from an actual “Mothership” that descended upon the stage, as he played the role of Starchild who came to bring The Funk to planet earth. Although Clinton is not literally landing a mothership on stage anymore, the terrific ten minute long rendition of Mothership Connection with which the Funk Legend & his huge Parliament & Funkadelic backing band opened the show definitely gave you the feeling that something big from outer space just landed on stage.
FRESH NEW TUNES AND FUNKY CLASSICS
Last year Funkadelic released First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate, their first official album in 33 years, so obviously some tracks of this new album were played, all of them announced by a rapper enthusiastically shouting “new music!” at the start of each song. Although new tracks like Pole Power and Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You (which also happens to be half the title of Clinton’s recently released memoirs “Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?”) went down surprisingly well, the crowd didn’t come to hear new stuff. They came to hear The Bomb, The P-Funk, they came to get Funked Up.
And pure uncut Funk is what they got with classics like Flashlight, Give Up The Funk, One Nation Under A Groove and Bop Gun. All of these tunes have become such anthems that it feels like they’ve been around forever. You’d almost forget that someone actually once wrote them. That someone is George Clinton, and he was standing right in the middle of the stage as the Ringmaster of his own Cirque Du Fonque.
GEORGE CLINTON IS STILL A TRUE ORIGINAL
There are few musicians alive today who have had such a phenomenal impact on modern music the way George Clinton has, and that showed throughout the night. Funk’s prime pioneer has been a huge influence on acts like Prince and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and plenty of rappers sampled his songs through the years. Songs we heard live at the Enmore have been sampled in hits by De La Soul (Knee Deep/Freak Of The Week = Me, Myself & I), Snoop Dogg (What’s My Name = Atomic Dog) Ice Cube (Bop Gun = One Nation Under A Groove) and, the richest man in music today, Dr. Dre (Let Me Ride = Mothership Connection). It is not unreasonable to argue that the Beats By Dre Billionaire may never have become a music icon if he hadn’t discovered Clinton’s music as a teenager.
OBSCURE DEEP CUTS & CLOSE FAMILY CONNECTIONS
Aside from the big hits that everyone came to hear Clinton’s Groovalistic Funk Orchestra also threw a few curveballs at the audience with some unexpected obscure cuts, like Parliament’s Presence Of A Brain and the Bootsy Collins-cover Vanish In Our Sleep. This track was performed by backup singers Patavian Lewis & Tonysha Nelson, together also known as Kandy Apple Red. And the Kandy Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as these talented ladies are Clinton’s own granddaughters!
SIR NOSE THE PIMP DADDY DISCOVERS THAT FUNK IS FOR EVERYONE
Five songs into the set a huge pimp daddy walked on stage, dressed in so much white fur that the RSPCA would have kicked him out of the country, even his hat was covered in fur! P-Funk Mythology [no we’re not making this up check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-Funk_mythology ]teaches us this Bad Brutha was Sir Nose, the unfunky nemesis of Clinton’s alter ego Starchild. During each show Sir Nose, nowadays performed by dancer /acrobat Carlos McMurray, gets converted to The Funk.
But first Sir Nose entertained the crowd with some impressive acrobatic acts on the speakers, giving Clinton’s already colourful Circus of Funk a bit of a Cirque Du Soleil-vibe. After a good two hours Sir Nose was not only converted and swinging around on stage, he decided to invite the audience on stage with him. While joining a band onstage can often be a self-indulgent moment for fans, tonight it was all about feeling the funk together, as everyone was welcome on stage and the message was clear; it doesn’t matter whether you are black, white, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, tall, short, hippy, mainstream, nerdy, old, young, gay, straight, human or alien; Funk is for Everyone.