LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Parliament-Funkadelic, Fishbone, Blue Eye Extinction in Boston, MA (08.17.23)

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LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Parliament-Funkadelic, Fishbone, Blue Eye Extinction in Boston, MA (08.17.23)

The night started out with a fairly unknown act, Blu Eye Extinction. A New York City based funk fusion band, they reminded me a bit of a young Living Colour, blending rap, funk, and a grunge like 80s/90s style rock. Lots of movement on the stage from the singers, combined with a solid horn section as well as a guitarist dressed in…trash? They left me enamored by their fresh take of the genres being presented in tonight’s concert and I look forward to taking a deeper dive into the future of their music.

Next up was Fishbone, which I must say, I was equally here to see, next to P-funk. Fishbone’s consistent energy has always kept me coming to their shows and their sets never disappoint.

After opening with a new track “Estranged Fruit” from their latest EP, they jumped right into the classics like “Sunless Saturday”, “Bonin in the Boneyard” (featuring Norwood Fisher’s best bass lines out of their song catalogue), and “Cholly”. They followed that with their best new tune “All We Have is Now”, which any fan and listener can relate to. A set of theirs wouldn’t’ be complete without “Alcoholic”, “Skankin’ to the Beat” and “Party at Ground Zero”. The singer Angelo Moore (I’m going to officially declare him the hardest working man in showbusiness now that James Brown has passed) always shows up with fun and different outfits, which definitely add to the band’s quirky upbeat nature as well as inhuman levels of energy on stage. For a band that started in 1979, it’s incredible how they’ve stayed forever youthful and relevant. I highly recommend catching one of their shows in the near future. FYI, they have an upcoming show November 17, with GZA at the Palladium in Worcester, MA.

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic kept the energy train rolling with quite the on-stage party. They took the audience on an electrifying journey through time and sound at MGM Fenway in Boston. With a setlist that blended the best of Funkadelic and Parliament classics, as well as a few surprising covers, the night became a cosmic explosion of groove, energy, and undeniable funk.

Let it be known that although 16 members, which is a damn good amount, of this band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, George Clinton and Michael Hampton are the only original members to appear on stage for this tour. The band was mostly comprised of grandsons and granddaughters of original band members and a generally younger collection of performers. I have seen this group play 4 times in the past (the first in 2008 or so), and of these times, this was the most involved I have seen Clinton be in a performance. I have heard he was sick for a while and mostly served as a side-of-stage conductor of sorts but seemed back to his roots, singing through songs he hadn’t for (what seemed like) ages.

As the band launched into “Cosmic Slop,” the unmistakable blend of rock and funk, showcased the band’s ability to merge genres seamlessly. “Nappy Dugout” and “Pole Power” delivered a one-two punch of nostalgia, harking back to the heyday of Funkadelic. The guitar riffs intertwined with the rhythm section, creating a sonic landscape that transported the audience to the heart of funk’s roots.

The tempo kicked up several notches with “Get Off Your Ass and Jam.” The funky basslines and infectious rhythm had the crowd moving in unison, a testament to the band’s ability to create music that’s not just heard but felt deep within the soul. Clinton may not have stayed on his feet the whole show, but he certainly made a point to be the ever-beating heart of the night, helping songs launch into each new direction.

“P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” continued the journey with its infectious hooks and infectious melodies. The groove was unrelenting, solidifying Clinton’s status as a funk icon. A surprise twist came with the cover of “Jump Around” by House of Pain, which injected a modern energy into the setlist and had the crowd bouncing to the beat. “I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing, Everybody’s Got a Thing” was a reminder of the Funkadelic philosophy, drawing the audience into a playful exchange of energy between the stage and the theater space.

The emotional climax of the night arrived with “Maggot Brain”. For this haunting guitar solo, the band brought out one of their original guitarists Michael Hampton (not sure where he was hiding the first two thirds of the set). It carried the audience on a musical odyssey of raw emotion and introspection, captivating even the most casual listener with its soul stirring beauty. When their first guitarist, Eddie Hazel, left the band, Hampton had impressed Clinton by performing a note-for-note rendition of Hazel’s ten-minute run.

“Up for the Down Stroke” and “Motor-Booty Affair” continued to fuel the funk fire, with the crowd’s energy reaching new heights. But it was the explosive “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” that brought the house down.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic’s performance was a masterclass in funk music, effortlessly blending the past, present, and future of the genre. With so many people on stage, they showed Boston what a true funk party could be. The number of performers sharing the vocals throughout the set was a testament to carrying this brands flame while providing the audience with a ferocious mix of musical generas.  “Once upon a time called now”, Clinton’s larger-than-life presence and ever glowing smile proved the power of funk was stronger than ever.

Photos – Parliament-Funkadelic, Fishbone, Blu Eye Extinction at MGM Music Hall on August 17th:

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