Michael Hampton walks on stage, wearing the kind of luminous green sweatshirt normally reserved for stewards at a football stadium. A grey dreadlock falls across his face as he takes off his sunglasses and straps his Fender over his shoulder. He plugs the jack into the guitar, waggles his fingers as if to have a brief warm up, and begins to play. 20 odd minutes later, he looks at his arm as if to say “How long do I have to do this shit for, man?” and brings a very heavy but incredibly psychedelic Maggot Brain style extended opening jam to a close.
Michael Hampton walks on stage, wearing the kind of luminous green sweatshirt normally reserved for stewards at a football stadium. A grey dreadlock falls across his face as he takes off his sunglasses and straps his Fender over his shoulder. He plugs the jack into the guitar, waggles his fingers as if to have a brief warm up, and begins to play. 20 odd minutes later, he looks at his arm as if to say “How long do I have to do this shit for, man?” and brings a very heavy but incredibly psychedelic Maggot Brain style extended opening jam to a close. The Paradiso audience stands almost bewildered as the band grows from four, to six, to eight, to twelve members, more. A cast of what seems like thousands pours out of the wings. There are more guitars on stage than at a Fender convention and there are keyboards stacked up like they’re going out of fashion. As for fashion, there’s some mighty snazzy threads moving around too, including a silver tassly number that words simply can’t do justice too.
“We’ve got more Funkadelic here tonight so you all ready for a party?” booms the deep voice of Michael ‘Clip’ Payne and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This is gonna get heavy. “We’re gonna give some Cosmic Slop to you all.” That’s it, I’m gone. The drums come to life, the guitars get cranked up (as well as the volume – Gloryhallostoopid it’s loud!) and I’m dancing like a drunk uncle at a wedding within seconds. It’s only the first real song of the night and I’ve already got my money’s worth.
“Look at you all staring at Funkadelic like, ‘What tha fuck?’ ,“ chortles Clip and it’s true, half of us are sweating like a pig in an abattoir holding pen while the rest of the crowd are simply staring, gaping mouthed, at what’s in front of them. It’s funny but it’s obvious that many of the Paradiso audience simply forgot how bloody heavy the Funkadelic side of the P-Funk equation could be. Sure they’re funky, damn funky, but there’s some real meat on their musical bones and an intro this aggressive seems to have scared quite a few of them to stone. Or maybe it’s the sight of a dreadless George Clinton? That’s right, the dreads have gone. George walks on stage clutching a rainbow Clinton wig, as if to emphasise the change. His head now hidden beneath a high peak baseball cap, the 69 year old Clinton may have lost some of his visual style but thankfully his taste in clothing is still as gregarious as ever. Even Lee Scratch Perry can’t compete with this fashion statement.
Sensing the crowd’s initial reservations Clinton barks out one word, “Flashlight,” and the party begins in earnest. Out comes Dr Nose, stripped to the waist with an 8 inch phallous dangling from his face, white fur trousers and brimmed hat completing the look, and off he goes wandering across the stage on his hands, platform shoes dangling over the front row of the crowd and by the time the backing singer comes forward to shake her considerable booty in a very alluring fashion the Paradiso is, literally, bouncing.
It continues that way for close to three hours. Three blissful hours of pure, deep and uncut funk. We get treated to Kim Manning’s special party trick of being able to demonstrate her 5 octave vocal range while rollerskating. There are at least four separate drummers taking it in turns to smack some skins, we endure a quite ridiculous keyboard solo and are spoilt with the occasional special guest appearance, including George’s rapping granddaughter and the incredibly powerful Mary Griffin.
Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker), (Not Just) Knee Deep, Testify; the hits just keep on coming, including a monumentally primal Alice in My Fantasies and an unbelievably heavy Red Hot Mama.
As the band finally leave the stage, “We’ve never figured out how to end one of these shows yet,” we, as an audience, are left bruised, battered, partially deaf, sweating profusely and grinning from ear to ear. Parliament-Funkadelic have left us with ants in our pants and we need to dance so the only thing we can do is go to the bar, stock up on liquids and wait for the DJ to kick us back into top gear. We’re gonna dance till dawn, which is only just around the corner. Gloryhallostoopid this was one hell of a night.
I did miss Diaper man though. Garry Shider, RIP.