George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic – O2 Academy Liverpool – 29th July 2016 – Live Review

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 George Clinton is one of our greatest living musical innovators.

He’s not nearly as big a name as David Bowie or Prince, both of whom tragically passed away this year, both of whom were clearly inspired by him in many ways, yet he’s every bit as influential as the pair of them. Even if you don’t know him by name, chances are you’ll have come across his music in some shape or form. He’s the most sampled artist of all time in Hip Hop (even more so than James Brown), perhaps most famously by De La Soul, who based their hit ‘Me, Myself And I’ around Funkadelic’s stupendously groovesome ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep’ (one of a great many highlights of tonight’s set). 

 As well as staking a claim for the coveted ‘Godfather of Rap’ honour more convincingly than many, his bands Funkadelic and Parliament were also making some of the most mind meltingly out there sounds of the seventies, at times (particularly on some of the earlier releases, Osmium, Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow, Maggot Brain, America Eats Its Young) even outweirding Zappa and Beefheart . Even today these albums still have the power to shock and astound; containing some of the wildest, freakiest, perversely beautiful psych-rock-soul sounds of the decade, light years ahead of their time and still sounding unlike anything ever recorded by anyone. EVER. Fast forward to 1975 and he’d invented Disco (Parliament’s Mothership Connection), a movement which he strongly disapproved of at the time. Little matter; the stone was set, the future was written, history was not only made but regurgitated out several times in different colours, shapes and sizes. Tonight marks the great man’s first live appearance in the Mersey since 1971. Hold tight, Starchild. 

Ever the shape-shifter, the set begins with a distinctly Hip Hop flavoured theme, featuring cuts from 2014’s dizzying triple set First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (‘Pole Power’, ‘Get Low’, ‘The Naz’) and vocals from various different members of the Clinton family, including some rapping from George’s grandson Tra’zae. A toned Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk, the character introduced on Parliament’s Funkentelechy vs The Placebo Syndrome, thankfully has his evil plans thwarted by the audience, surrendering himself to performing handstands on the speakers and gyrating with female stage invaders. Later period Zappa narrators such as the Central Scrutinizer and Thing-Fish appear to have been inspired by Clinton concepts like this, as do many Hip Hop album stories and skits.

 Clinton’s anarchic, genre-disregarding musical approach means there’s room for rock and psychedelia in the midst of the heady funk brew. The late, great Eddie Hazel’s spirit is invoked in a spellbinding 11 minute reworking of ‘Maggot Brain’, Dewayne “Blackbird” McKnight’s guitar solo proving a showstopper and a half, whilst the more recent ‘Dirty Queen’ is a ferocious nu-metal stomper which surely ranks as the heaviest Funkadelic recording since set staple ‘Alice In My Fantasies’ (sadly not played tonight), from 1974’s Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On. Clinton himself is as captivating a performer as ever, even when he’s reduced to sitting down for a rest at times he’s making playful gestures at band members and making knowing facial expressions at his crowd, whom he clearly has a deep understanding of even after decades of chemical consumption which would finish off many. Having beaten all his addictions it’s great to see him reinvigorated like this, clearly loving every minute, with a fresh new energy and burning creativity no longer suppressed by bad living. Great to have you back, Sir, long may you continue to ride the Mothership! 







Read 995 times Last modified on Monday, 01 August 2016 19:28

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