George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Live: Outta The Funk With The Funk

The word funk has different usages today. Last Friday I was in a deep funk – having had one of the longest, most horrible days of my life.  I didn’t think anything could shift me out of that funk. But when George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic came on stage and started playing at London’s Electric Ballroom, I was reminded (and relieved) that music could. And music did. Funk music in all its wonderfully malleable, distorted P-Funk forms did.

George Clinton live concert - Electric Ballroom, London 2015

George Clinton live at Electric Ballroom

George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic collective, no matter who its individual members at any given time, has always been an entertaining beast of immense individual talents and strengths combined. It is still that beast in 2015. And when George Clinton and 17 other artists create and share a feast of P-Funk sounds and visuals with you during 2+ hours, well, you (even you in the deepest of life funks) can’t help but smile at the goodness of it, feel grateful for it and get down to it.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert- London 2015

Alongside George Clinton front, side or centre stage at any or all given moments during the London set were the stunning musicianship of Blackbyrd McKnight and Ricky Rouse (guitars) – Garrett Shider (guitar & vocals) – Lige Curry (bass & vocals) – Jerome Rogers (keys/synths) – Greg Thomas (trumpet & vocals) – Bennie Cowan (trumpet & vocals) – Benzel Baltimore Cowan (drums) – Patavian Lewis, Tonysha Nelson, Brandi ScottTra’zae Lewis-Clinton, Trafel Lewis and Thurteen (vocals)…plus one more cat making fleeting appearances amongst the chaotic brilliance of the All-in tracks – who naming for us, will win you a First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate cd-set or George Clinton’s Autobiography sent to your home (promise it’s true).

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

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From the wonderfully wild and energetic Shake The Gate medley showcasing the talents of the younger P-Funk generation (“Pole Power”+“Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up”+ the sultry, soulful “Meow Meow” featuring Brandi Scott)…

Tra'zae- Parliament Funkadelic live concert 2015

Tra’zae Lewis-Clinton

Garrett Shider- Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Garrett Shider

 

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Tonysha Nelson (l) & Patavian Lewis (r)

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Trafel Lewis

Thurteen - Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Thurteen

Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Brandi Scott

 

Meow Meow – George Clinton & Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (2014)

 

– to the mesmerising guitar solos of long-time members Blackbyrd McKnight and Ricky Rouse in “Maggot Brain”

Ricky Rouse - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Ricky Rouse

DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight- Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight

– to the sweet performance of the Kandy Apple Redd song “Vanish” by George Clinton’s granddaughters Tonysha Nelson and Patavian Lewis…

Tonysha Nelson- Parliament Funkadelic live concert 2015Patavian Lewis - Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

– and renditions of the greatest-known Parliament/Funkadelic hits like “Flashlight”, “One Nation Under a Groove”, “Bop Gun (Endangered Species)”, “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep”

Greg Thomas - Parliament Funkadelic live concert 2015

Greg Thomas

Steve Boyd- Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

Steve Boyd

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– to the acrobatic appearances of Sir Nose (aka Carlos McMurray) – the superb foundation of it all created by Benzel Baltimore Cowan on drums and Lige Curry on bass – the delightful horn-lines of Bennie Cowan and Greg Thomas throughout – and undoubtedly also to the sound engineering magic of Dwayne Dungey

…we were purely and simply funked up and entertained, good and proper, as you’d rightly expect to be at a Parliament Funkadelic show.

With George Clinton there in every moment- singing, dancing, facilitating, encouraging or just simply hearing, feeling and appreciating the sounds and energy created by everyone in the room with him.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert- London 2015

At only two other live shows have I seen so many different generations of people in the crowd. The first was George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic in Sydney, the second George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at Bluesfest 2015. Whether in their late teens or 60s they all knew the words to Parliament/Funkadelic songs spanning so many decades – and it was the youngsters gleefully shouting when they saw each well-known and revered P-Funk artist arrive on the Electric Ballroom stage for the first time.

DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015That broad fan base is of course a testament to the very long time George Clinton and his collaborators have been alive and making music, but also to the timeless goodness of that music; and their ability to adapt to the changing times, to stay relevant (ie. keep making awesome music and playing their instruments brilliantly) whatever the contemporary musical landscape may be.

One of these days when we no longer see George Clinton on the Parliament Funkadelic stage jumping up and down and humping speakers like he so admirably does now at 75 years old, or when members of the older Parliament/Funkadelic guard like Blackbyrd McKnight put down his guitar, the Parliament Funkadelic beast will be a different one for sure.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert - London 2015

But it will be a beast nonetheless…able (and hopefully willing) to carry the torch and continue delivering funk/rock/soul/jazz/hip hop fusion in new and evolving forms to future generations. It appears that George Clinton and his musical cohorts past and present, dearly-departed and alive, have all seen to that.

George Clinton live concert - Electric Ballroom, London 2015Garrett Shider - Parliament Funkadelic live concert, London 2015

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Givin’ Up The Funk Live In Sydney

Any cats or kitties out there whippin or wailin and jumpin up and down tellin each other who the greatest contemporary funk cats in the world are can just zip it.

Those cats are George Clinton & the Parliament Funkadelic collective, of course.

I knew it a while back when the gift of the new Funkadelic album First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate came.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

If there was any doubt then (there wasn’t) I know it unequivocally now after having the unfunkinbelievably-crazy-amazing live P-Funk experience at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Wednesday night.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live at Enmore Theatre, Sydney 2015

Dr Funkenstein

At the helm of the Parliament Funkadelic mothership in 2015 remains Dr Funkenstein himself, George Clinton – a musical innovator and visionary who continues now in his 70’s like he always has, to put his paw prints into our present, past and future of music. On stage in the live arena George Clinton now like always, facilitates, directs, performs, sings and shakes his ass with that innately-oozing musical and manly style, panache and cool he is loved and respected for by millions of people around the world.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

P Funk in 2015

Alongside George Clinton on Australian stages, keepin’ the funk, glorious funk alive and well as promised is a fresh, multi-generational collective of 14+ super-talented cats from P Funk days of old and new. I’m gonna name the artists I can and apologise to any I miss crediting for their awe-inspiring chops that put a smile on everyone’s faces during the entire Sydney show and long thereafter.

Ricky Rouse playing his guitar every which way; Lige Curry on bass; Benzel Baltimore on drums; Bennie Cowan on trumpet; Robert “P-Nut” Johnson and Michael “Clip” Payne on vocals; Gregory Thomas on saxophone; Danny Bedrosian on keys/synths; Garrett Shider (son of the dearly-departed P Funk guitarist/musical director from early Parliament Funkadelic days Garry Shider) on guitar; Thurteen Thurteen who sung his vocals from both on stage and amongst the crowd; and George Clinton’s grand kiddies Tonysha Nelson, Patavian Lewis and Tracey “Tra’Zae” Lewis-Clinton on vocals. Melbourne funkateers at Friday’s Parliament-Funkadelic show also got another one of the P Funk guitar legends on stage – Dewayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight.

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The spaceship might not make an appearance on stages these days but a Parliament Funkadelic show would not be that, without the appearance of one or more of its beloved characters. This time George Clinton brought along Starchild’s nemesis from days of old – the vain, “too-cool-for-everything-real” pimpster Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk (in 2015, aka Carlos McMurray). Before the night was done there was nothing for Sir Nose to do of course but succumb to the funk and get down and dirty with the best of them.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Check out this video from the Sydney show featuring Sir Nose.

George Clinton maintains Parliament Funkadelic has kept its musical currency throughout its long history by keeping a focus on the younger generation of artists who’ve formed part of the ever-changing collective at different times. True to that belief the Sydney set was opened with a medley of First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate tracks collaboratively performed by George Clinton and his younger P Funk counterparts. Check out a video here of the ‘Pole Power‘/‘Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up’/ ‘Get Low’ medley plus a [dirty mp3] sample of the album version of ‘Pole Power’ below.

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‘Pole Power’ – Parliament Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (2014)

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After a short taste of new Parliament Funkadelic music, the rest of the Sydney set was made up of the most well-known and popular songs of old like ‘Flashlight’ and ‘Give Up The Funk’. There was just so much incredible musical shit constantly happening all over the stage during the entire set that (impossibly) I wanted to hear, see and to dance with eyes closed to every single sound played.

I once read a review of a Parliament Funkadelic concert where the writer said their 90-minute set made the gig too long. Surely no true funkateer would think, feel or say that?  George Clinton & Paliament Funkadelic played brilliantly for two blissful hours in Sydney and it was but a minuscule of the vast, beloved Parliament Funkadelic catalogue. I could have funked out with them all night long and then some.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Many thousands of funkateers will be blessed tomorrow to get their own glorious dose of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic playing live at Byron Bay Bluesfest.

For those who won’t, the consolation prize is this here final video from Parliament Funkadelic’s Sydney show.

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Funkadelic: First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate

“I don’t do a whole lot of doin’ without the funk…I promise the funk, promise to keep this promise, you’ll keep the funk.”

That of course, is a Funkadelic mantra. The promise of funk is one that George Clinton has kept throughout all of Parliament-Funkadelic’s many incarnations in its long history. It’s also a promise he’s delivered on yet again with his recent gift of a new Funkadelic album First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate to the world’s body of music. Even though that body of music is vast, it rarely includes new additions of funk these days so to say that the release of a new Funkadelic album is a super-special gem is an understatement of great proportions.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

In true Parliament/Funkadelic/P-Funk style the 33 tracks on First ya Gotta Shake the Gate have been written and recorded by a collective of incredible artists of new and old, living and passed. They include legendary artists and kooky characters you know and love from Parliament/Funkadelic’s long history: Sly Stone, William “Bootsy” Collins, Fred Wesley, Bernie Worrell, Garry “Starchild” ShiderMaceo Parker and more – as well as a raft of new and contributing artists to discover, including some of George Clinton’s kids and grandkids.

This album has Funkadelic sounds for everyone’s tastes: from the beloved funk, jazz, soul and psychadelic rock fusion of old through to hip hop rhymes and beats of new – all of them of the wonderfully-kooky Funkadelic kind.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

Last but by no means least of course – keeping the funk by pulling all of those artists and sounds of old and new together to give the world this special musical gift is the funk master, facilitator, co-writer, co-performer and producer of First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate –  the one and the only George Clinton.

There really ain’t nothing more to say about First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate. Now is the time for any funkateers out there to reaffirm their promise to keep the funk – and to do a whole lot of doin’ with the funk, by following these 5 simple steps…

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 1

Get excited about First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate by sampling these (dirty) mp3 versions of some of its 33 tracks. The first one will put that important Funkadelic mantra into your head.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

‘Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 1)
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‘Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 1)
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Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

‘First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 2)
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‘Nuclear Dog Part II’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 2)
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Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

‘Zip It’ – Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (Disc 3)

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Keepin’ the Funk: Step 2

Get yourself to your local, independent record store and buy a hard-copy of First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate to have and behold this funk gem in your music collection forever thereafter.

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 3

Find the live Parliament-Funkadelic experience in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the U.K or U.S.A between now and August so as not to miss what could possibly be your last opportunity to experience one of the greatest funk collectives of music history performing live.

George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic: Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015George Clinton & Parliament-FunkadelicGeorge Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic: Australia Tour 2015

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 4

Until that live Funkadelic experience comes, get to your local bookshop and find a copy of George Clinton’s Memoir Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? to better get to know the Parliament-Funkadelic history.

George Clinton Memoir: Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?

Keepin’ the Funk: Step 5

Finally funkateers – keep on saying, thinking and living that Funkadelic mantra as you do whatever it is that you’re doin’…

“I don’t do a whole lot of doing without the funk. I promise the funk, promise to keep this promise, you’ll keep the funk.”

George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic

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