George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic

George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, O2 ABC, Glasgow, 10 May 2017

I would have to admit that going into this that I wasn’t exactly a superfan of George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic. Sure, I knew and enjoyed their hits – and not just because Flashlight was on the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 soundtrack a few weeks ago – but I would have been hard-pressed to actually name much more than a handful of classic tracks from the 70s. “Hey, that was sampled by Röyksopp!” I would have said.

However, the opportunity arose to get a ticket to their show at the O2 ABC in Glasgow, and I figured it was worth giving them a shot. I listened to some greatest hits playlists, and thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into.

I did not.

The opening act was Glasgow’s own Shaka Loves You, who warmed up the crowd nicely with a laptop & turntable based show with some live percussion, playing a funk-infused hip hop set.

To be honest, I spent a good deal of it counting and re-counting the number of microphones behind them on stage. Just how many people were in Parliament-Funkadelic these days? Every time I counted, another microphone had seemingly appeared from nowhere. 13? 15?

I had also been advised that as George was getting on a bit these days, what with him being 75 and all, he was likely to be sitting down for most of the gig.

He did not.

The cheapest looking plastic folding chair, seemingly stolen from your school assembly, was placed in front of the drums for just such an occasion, but while he did sit down now and again, the man clearly has far more energy than I do. I eyed his chair enviously at a number of points during the over two-hour set that was to follow.

The audience was not what I was expecting either. When I saw Jean-Michel Jarre recently at the Hydro, the lasers were glinting gently off the sea of male-pattern baldness that made up the crowd. Here, the vast majority of people were in their twenties, paying homage to their grandfather of funk. Indeed the one notable shaved head was George himself, bereft of his iconic rainbow dreadlocks.

The rest of the band were all ages. Guitar player DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight was one of the oldest at 63. Two of the singers were George’s granddaughters, Tonysha Nelson and Patavian Lewis. But there were so many people who went on and off stage throughout the night that I started to lose track.

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Brass players, guitarists, singers, rappers… Wait, rappers? I honestly wasn’t expecting that. There was a lot of the unexpected for me – the show covered a wide range of genres, from funk, soul, hip hop, all the way through to face-melting heavy rock.

Atomic Dog, Flashlight, One Nation Under a Groove, Give Up the Funk, (Not Just) Knee Deep and P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) were notable standandouts. But there was a lot I didn’t recognise that I want to track down now, presumably from the relatively recent albums like First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate from 2014.

Admittedly, the sound mix wasn’t exactly brilliant from my position at the front of the stage with the vocals a bit hard to make out. It was certainly loud enough that my ears are still ringing as I type this some twenty-four hours later. But the sheer energy and enjoyment from being up close to such a legend was definitely worth it.

George seemed to be enjoying things throughout, with an infectious smile on his face. Even when he wasn’t singing, he was bouncing around the stage encouraging the crowd to cheer for each individual band member.

I may not have gone into this being a superfan, but I definitely left as one.

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