georgeclinton-5.2.2013_0 – THE RITZ, MANCHESTER –

The mothership has landed, mo fo’s. Yep, George Clinton – one of the originators of funk music and general interstellar space oddity – is back on the road, taking his message of funk to believers across the lands.

From the 1960s, Clinton has created some of low-down seediest and irresistible grooves ever known to mankind… or indeed ravers of any other species of this world or any other. Believing himself to be some kind of interstellar funk messiah, Clinton laid the bedrock for what would become the funk sound, going on to be sampled by all the major hip hop players. Listen to ‘Atomic Dog’ and you soon realise Snoop has based an entire career on Clinton’s grooves.

Through various bands including Parliament and Funkadelic, George has turned on nightclubs across the globe, as though to even set foot on a dancefloor would light it up brighter than Jackson in the ‘Billie Jean’ video. These bands were to become the launchpad for players such as bassist Bootsie Collins, who played the bassline on James Brown’s ‘Sex Machine’, but might be better known for his grooves for Deee-Lite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’. Originally a staff writer for the Motown label, Clinton was able to fuse that soul with the rock grunge of acts like Jimi Hendrix and Cream to create something wholly otherworldly, but with that very corporeal groove. His outlandish beats were only match by his alien vibe and his sensational sense of fashion, which included psychedelic locks and nappies worn by the very obviously grown men in the band.

One of the most sampled musicians of all time, it is quite something that the man, now in his 70s, is still able to get on stage and slice The Ritz a new one. The club is packed tonight, the dancefloor a strange mélange of kooks, freaks and hipsters. Ages range from students to the middle-aged to the should-know-betters with some wacky fashions on display.

Once the DJ lifts the needle off the record, P-Funk (an on-going moveable feast, based on those two previous bands) step on stage. And man, they be TIGHT! Drums and bass lay down the groove, on which the keys and electric guitar swirl and play. The two female backing singers are super hot, one with a dress that seemed to have the middle portion missing. She made me feel pregnant, just with her moves. Even though I was 20 yard away. And a bloke.

And then Clinton himself steps on the stage and the roof lifts off, as though to welcome interplanetary ravers from distant star systems. OK, the psychedelic hair and funky shades may have gone, to be replaced by a somewhat more sedate, elegant suit and hat, but his smile is still as wide as the Hudson, and his voice as deep as a glass of Bourbon. The tunes aren’t always recognisable by name, but the grooves certainly are. Second track in is ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ and from there them grooves keep rolling, including ‘Maggot Brain’, ‘Flashlight’ and ‘Aquaboogie’. Floor and stage are locked into one shared groove.

The guitarist has a Hendrix sense of showmanship through his solos: the guitar under his legs, behind his back, played with his teeth. The bass players switch but both keep that bedrock solid. At one stage, a pimped up dancer appears in white fur suit, fedora and pecks you could cut your dinner on. He climbs aboard speakers and performs handstands, to great applause. At another point in the gig, George welcomes not his daughter… but granddaughter to the stage. She performs a rap on the subject of marijuana as George encourages the audience to toss him what look suspiciously like phat doobies. They go straight in his pocket with a welcoming wink.

Born in an outdoor toilet in North Carolina and now in his 8th decade, Clinton shows no signs of slowing. OK, so George sits out some tracks in a chair to the back of the stage but there is enough happening stage front to make the show feel part gig, part space funk cabaret. It is, naturally, course to swear but let’s see if you can crack this P-Funk code. Tonight was phat, phabulous and phucking phantastic.

Like brother Bill, I have enjoyed the pungent aromas of funk.

But I never inhaled.

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Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…