George Clinton @ Royal Festival Hall

“To the window, to the wall, till the sweat drops down my balls
awwww skeet skeet skeet skeet”

Opened in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, and recently revamped for a cool 90 million, The Royal Festival Hall can’t often have reverberated to the sound of a couple of thousand people bellowing about their sweaty balls, but that was before George Clinton brought his laws of Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication to town. A hall full of mostly English people going “awwww skeet skeet skeet skeet” has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and this being the internet you can always find a good online row over what the word means. I’m sure it’s all entirely innocent, and George is merely a keen Clay Pigeon shooter.

For the first 15 minutes, George is no where to be seen, and its left to Garry “Starchild” Shider to lead the funk with more panache than a 55 year old man in a large cloth nappy has any right to. Initially he teams the nappy with shades and the type of jacket not seen since Cameo’s codpiece was causing grannies to choke over tea time top of the pops. However the jacket is soon dispensed with and its just one man at one with his diaper and guitar, he owns the stage during “Funkentelechy” as only the original Cosmic John the Bop-tist can.

The place is so wrapped up in the wonder of “Cosmic Slop” that when George strolls on unannounced midway through, it takes a few moments before the place erupts into a 10 minute standing ovation.
As the Guardian observed “Clinton showed he’s still a style leader – rocking multi-coloured Evisu jeans, a neon T-shirt, gold hoody and hair that is best described as Tina Turner meets Don Letts“.
Pulling down the hood and shaking his multicoloured locks loose, he greets the packed and on their feet festival hall with the most charming, largest and warmest of grins. His grey beard, and shock of hair for some reason put me in mind of Harry from Bigfoot and The Henderson’s (Youtube), but that’s probably just me!

George and his P-Funk All-stars are not just visually brilliant, it’s the sound, the vision and the fun, as blogger Strawpig puts it:

I’m not entirely sure how to describe it other than WOW! It was truly awesome. So much power and energy and fun and funk, the band were SO tight (despite quite clearly being totally off their faces in some cases). Easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too”.

George Clinton @ Royal Festival HallClinton’s voice was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, his vocal chords seemed to generate so much power that if hooked to the London Eye it’d be less big wheel and more spin dryer. I’d not expected a roar with so much soul, while his spoken voice was more predictably baritone.

The show is very much in the spirit of James Brown’s ensemble style, only crossed with a touring theatre company, and then soaked in vat of something very trippy.
They even bring along their own “Bad guy”, Sir Nose D’VoidofFunk, dressed in puffy white fur like Snoop Dogg playing Huggy Bear. He’s the voice of anti-funk, with “Fuck George” daubed on the side of a large fake nose, and constantly appears holding up banners like “GEORGE CLOWN ASS”. Eventually of course, the funk defeats him and he clambers to the top of a speaker stack and shakes what his mamma gave him.
Word on the web is he’s also quite “buff”:

Oh and Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk is HOT. THIS is the only picture I can find and I don’t even know if that’s the same guy plus I wasn’t really looking at his face (he could have one eye for all I care his body was slammin’).

sir noseSo here’s a shot for the appreciation of that lady alone.

George is certainly not afraid to share the limelight with each of the three female vocalists taking a song each. Hippy chick Kendra Foster had the crowd singing along on “Bounce to This”… “Everybody just bounce to this”, although my own lyrics were slightly amended to “Buy a bra… for gods sake Buy a bra”.

Another singer Kim seems to have received an online slagging for “destroying” “Red Hot Mamma” but I thought her voice was pretty good considering she was rollerskating at the time!
She was certainly skilled in the looking good in a one piece cat suit and roller skates department; I thought Ricky Rouse was going to have a seizure when she skated over him as he lay on the floor. Earlier she’d also excelled at standing in front of a large spotlight that accidentally shows the outline of your entire body through your very tight yellow dress.

Poo PooGene ‘”Poo Poo Man” Anderson (God I love these names) led one song as if James Brown was being channeled through his body, and another guitarist who’d come dressed as Zorro was on his knees on the front of the stage by the shows climax.

Then there’s Michael “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton’s whose moment to shine arrived with the axe wielding monster that is “Maggotbrain”, voted one of the 10 greatest guitar solo’s of all time in a poll I just made up. It started chaotically with a bum notes on both drums and guitar but although some of its recorded subtlety was lost, the power of what is essentially a 10 minute guitar solo is still immense. He also displayed good ingenuity in employing his v shaped guitar as a makeshift towel rack.
stage invasion
After mass stage invasions, and as much dancing as the Royal Festival Hall can manage (i.e. not that much really) at twenty past eleven, three hours after taking to the stage the roadies resorted to dismantling the equipment while the band continued to lead sing-along’s. Kash, the lycra clad drummer took his kit being dismantled as an invitation to lead the crowd in one final chant of “WE WANT THE FUNK, WE WANT THA FUNK” as he disappeared.

Setlist:
Did anyone get one?

Funkentelechy
Up on the Down Stroke
You and Your Folks
Cosmic Slop
Maggot Brain
Red Hot Mama
Bounce to this
One Nation Under A Groove
Atomic Dog

George Clinton – Myspace / Official site / One Nation P-Funk Messageboard

Listen:
Funkadelic – Music For My Mother (Single version)” (MP3)

Look:
My flickr set of pictures from RFH gig
Jennifer Whitehead was right up the front and got some great shots
Sacha Wheeler was in the second row at his “best gig ever” and with a camera too
Last but not least, Pix Gremlin must have had a photo pass and therefore escapedbeing told to put the camera away every five seconds… these pictures are phenomenal!

Watch:
Youtube clips – Rough clip of George leading “Sweat runs down my balls singalong
Parliament / George / Funkadelic documentary on Youtube