Review: George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic @ The HMV Ritz 01-12-11

By Emma Nicholls

The first time I saw George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic was at Glastonbury 2010 where my friend perforated his ear drum to the screeching ecstasy of musical masterpiece, Maggot Brain.

So, as you can imagine, the anticipation of seeing the godfather of funk for a second time was rather intense and I couldn’t wait for the show to get started.

I could sense the excitement in the room as the audience trickled into the newly refurbished HMV Ritz. You see, that’s what I love about gigs, the fact you don’t notice the room filling up until you find yourself engulfed in a mass crowd of people bopping to the warm-up beats, in this case preparing you for another epic George Clinton adventure.

I must say, I was looking forward to a support band but there wasn’t one. No bother though, I got on with listening to the vibrant sounds of the background music (which was rather modestly P-Funk’s own classics!!).

8.30, bang on time, which if I’m honest I was quite surprised about. The opening track was well received by the audience and despite some slight fumbling over a broken microphone the tone was set. This was going to be good!

Half way through the second track George Clinton made his first appearance as one member joked: “The question is, which one is George Clinton?”

To be fair, there were a lot of (older) gentlemen on the stage and for someone who has never seen Clinton and his entourage before then I guess there could be some confusion. But the audience laughed the comment off, almost certainly many of them shrugging their shoulders and saying to their mate, ‘Course I know which one George Clinton is!’ the looking away sheepishly.

I think at this point I counted 14 people on the stage, including a figure with a neon skeleton suit on disguising his face and was casually seen parading around the stage throughout the night.

Funk is all about the people and the people who love it and that’s exactly what the on stage ethic was screaming out as the talented group members made their way on and off stage during the night.

Many classic tracks were belted out including Give up the Funk and One Nation Under a Grove, with the audience giving the group a helping hand.

Then it came to Maggot Brain. This was special. There’s something about Maggot Brain that stops a music lover dead. There wasn’t a single person in the room who didn’t have their eyes locked on the stage and their ears pinned up listening to the immense sounds of the track.

Let’s just say, it lived up to expectations and beyond! It was the second time I saw this live, and it was just as special as the first. As the track came to an end there was a huge pop from the audience as they erupted into screams and cheers. If that was the only track played, I would have been satisfied.  

There were also performances from Clinton’s very own granddaughter and grandson and a spectacular performance from P-Funk’s newest recruit, Mary Griffin. Mary absolutely blew the socks off the whole entire room and cheers following her performance virtually lifted off the roof.

Now some of you may be thinking a 70-year-old man is a bit passed his sell by date when it comes to gigging, much like the feeling you get when seeing Bob Dylan performing now as his voice has diminished into something quite strange! Although I do love Bob Dylan, may I add.

No, this was quite different. Clinton’s voice was reaching Tom Waits (I’ve smoked and drank so much my voice has slowly gotten deeper and deeper) kind of territory.

But the man had energy! I admit he wasn’t moving and shaking like he used to, and the sex appeal was slightly lacking, but no-one can argue George Clinton still has what it takes to be classed as a real funk and soul superstar.

The Mothership had landed. It landed in Manchester’s HMV Ritz on a night that will never be forgotten. 

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