George Clinton


“‘The Holy Mothership’ is a means of transportation that can take you through not only space, but time, and we’re still travelling,” speaks all-star sonic architect and Parliament-Funkadelic founder George Clinton on his alter-ego Dr. Funkenstein’s musical voyager that was used as a primary means of mass-deliverance to a world that was unable to comprehend unashamed black expression without it being dressed as an alien encounter.

Since his doo-wop beginnings, Clinton has been known to planet-surf from LCD-induced psychosis to sobering meditation – leaving chasms of change in his wake, but as-of-late his notoriety has stemmed from the 76-year-old’s seemingly lidless well of feverish creativity that sees him featuring on the likes of Kendrick Lamar’s earth-shattering 2015 release To Pimp a Butterfly and collaborating with contemporary contemporaries such as Flying Lotus and Thundercat – artists whose place in the world would be confused without the path Clinton paved.

Where most would fear the evening to be a semi-resurrected celebratory lap of the extra-terrestrial’s illustrious past, the stage gives home to an Eyes Wide Shut-esque gathering of personality – littered with history-tracing masks of kings and street-freaks, and demonstrates Clinton and his collective’s capacity for risk as much as it does virtuosity, as over a dozen dancers and musicians attempt to contain a forward-raging, galaxy-charged bull within the frame of what can only be described as 3-hours of ‘entire world music’.

Although a historic divide between Clinton’s spinning plates of Parliament, Funkadelic and the myriad iterations of both acts over the past 50-years, it’s hard to draw a line in the sand between both factions, as the evening swallows the past and converges what once was into what Clinton would describe as “the antidote” – encouraging a quickened blood-stream with a joyous overload of the senses. Often stepping back to allow a revolving-door of talent to flex, Clinton conducts the evening so not to be about legacy or legend, but the bold arrow of time.

‘Flash Light’ embodies the defiant positivity of the first-half of the evening – acting as an introduction to Clinton’s glow, where ‘Dirty Queen’ breaks the established tone and injects a sharper note into the P-Funk-heavy 21-song set – giving home to the seemingly lost Flying V-brandishing member of the 14-man troupe; semi-naked in a semi-collapsing Diana Ross tour shirt and neon underwear – waiting for the shade to shift, but it’s Garrett Shider who truly moves the weather of the evening by doubling in size and taking up the space of a now near-empty stage for a monolithic performance of ‘Maggot Brain’- carving through the sun of the past 90-minutes with his very own dagger-shaped apocalypse.

With such a decentralized presence – focusing as much on the collective that are to carry on without Clinton following his 2019 retirement as it has on Clinton himself, it’s clear that the fever that radiates from the psych-icon isn’t simply going to kiss off into the air upon his leaving, but is simply changing hands.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.