Saturday Night: George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars at House of Blues
George Clinton has strong ties to the city of Houston, which has been evident with the bounty of shows he's thrown our way over the past several years. It was only a matter of time before he brought his circus back to House of Blues, and Saturday Clinton and his band -- Parliament, Funkadelic, P-Funk, the Parliaments or whatever they're called these days -- started early and played late, satiating any and every paying customer's fix for the funk.
One thing that P-Funk (which is what I'm going to call them for this article) always does is bring the funk until they either get kicked offstage by the venue or simply run out of material. One thing they absolutely never do is start their show on time. With what's been described as a "hazy" backstage at a P-Funk show, it's no wonder they always take forever to come onstage.
That wasn't the case Saturday night, though, with the 9 p.m. start time finding all umpteen members of Clinton's troupe slowly parading their way into their positions behind either an instrument or one of the bevy of mike stands that crowded the right side of the stage. I guess there's a first time for everything.
With Clinton nowhere in sight, the band started into a slow, slinky version of the Funkadelic classic "One Nation Under a Groove," with one of the male backup singers taking the lead. Dude had chops, but everyone just couldn't wait until Dr. Funkenstein made his way to center stage.
The band jammed, or warmed up rather, for a good 25 minutes. There was a ton of solid playing, including a bass solo that seemed to go on forever, but finally Clinton made his way to the stage for "Flashlight," immediately waking back up a crowd that was kind of losing it so early on.
You might be wondering, after looking at the photos you've assuredly seen by now, what happened to the colorful dreads that were Clinton's signature coif for decades, or even his complete change of attire from the muumuus of years past to the snazzy Sunday-best that he was sporting Saturday night. I was as lost as you are.
After reading an interview he did recently, I found out that he's trying to bring his look back to the early days when he was singing doo-wop with the Parliaments; all I can say is that old boy looked slick.
What wasn't missing was Clinton's enthusiasm. Every other P-Funk show I've seen, he's taken much less of a role, especially when it comes to the vocal department, serving more as a hype man rather than a top-billed lead vocalist. This show was quite a bit different.
While Clinton still took several breaks throughout the show, he sang tenfold more than any other performance I've witnessed in years past. He never left the stage, and even had a chair parked in the middle for him to take a load off during the extended instrumentals or whenever one of the ten other vocalists were having his or her way with the mike.