George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars

Forum, Kentish Town, London, Sunday 31st May 1998

If you read reviews of the All-Stars by connoisseurs of the P-Funk live experience, then you'll probably be told that the mighty Parliafunkadelicment thing is on its last legs. The days of the Mothership are over, they'll tell you: P-Funk is on the way out.

Well, relatively speaking I'm a P-Funk neophyte. This is the first time that the records I've been listening to for two or three years have been made flesh, and though I'm loathe to argue with those more sage and experienced than me, this gig blew my mind!

Granted, there were none of the costumes of the classic P-Funk shows, aside from George's bizarre apparel. There was no Mothership, and I'm sure I would have noticed if anyone had flown above the crowd in a giant silver nappy. Likewise there was no Bootsy, no Bernie, no Maceo, no Fred. But what was there was The Funk, pure and simple, stripped down to its fundamentals and glorious in its butt-naked splendour.

It started perhaps a little earlier than it should have, the Ghanaian band scheduled to support them having been refused work permits. It's the first time I've been to the Forum, and it seems quite a likeable venue, extortionate drinks prices aside. By no means filled to capacity, George and the All-Stars had still drawn a respectably sized crowd. Starting off low-key, we set off on an odyssey through many of the best-loved P-Funk tunes.

Mr Clinton arrived several songs in, bedecked in a robe daubed with multifarious colours and a foot-high mane of technicolour hair. We were quite far into the crowd, so I couldn't report on how those behind me were receiving it, but I and those around were soon grooving to the classics. Mostly, they play Parliament tunes: Flashlight, Up For the Down Stroke, Dr Funkenstein. Atomic Dog, Red Hot Mama are notable exceptions. The disturbingly long guitar solo in () tests the crowd's patience at one point, but for the most part the audience reception is nothing but positive.

Now, you may have heard a whole lot of artists perform Sly's "If You Want Me to Stay" - Mica Paris, the Red Hot Chili Peppers maybe. Tonight I can state that George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars perform the funkiest, heaviest, coolest version of this song that has ever been played. This song, more than any of the others performed, took my breath away (and by the end of the gig I was so danced-out I was calling for a stretcher!).

All in all, a marvellous gig. If you get the chance to see the All-Stars, don't hesitate. They may not come with the paraphernalia and numbers of their gigs back in the day, but these guys can still funk on a world class level.

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Last updated 30/7/98