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Concert Reviews:
George Clinton bids a funky farewell at Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic onTwitter

Posted: Friday, June 21, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS -- The adopted home town may not have turned out for George Clinton, but he and his Parliament-Funkadelic gang still tore the proverbial roof off the sucker on Thurday night, June 21, at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill.

Clinton -- who launched his P-Funk empire during a long tenure living in Detroit (and Brooklyn, Mich.) starting during the mid-60s -- says he'll be retiring from the road after one last romp on the One Nation Under a Groove Tour. Attendance on Thursday was sparse by any measure and particularly disheartening given the circumstances. But Clinton and company didn't let it deter them from delivering their usual, chaotic-looking good time, a 90-minute funkfest that hit the key moments from a 50-plus-year career.

Though unsentimental -- nary a word of farewell or acknowledgement of his roots here -- the more than 20 P-Funkers navigated the set with impressive precision given the volume of moving parts on stage at any given time. The tenor was set by the opening acts, of coruse, -- particularly New Orleans' Dumpstaphunk, who paid tribute to the late Dr. John with a cover of his "Right Place, Wrong Time," and the politically charged Fishbone, whose Angelo Moore paraded through the pavilion waving a F*** Racism sign and sang a good chunk of his set back in the crowd.

P-Funk, meanwhile, got its end of the party going with the space fun of "The Motor Booty Affair," which morphed into a mash-up of "Super Stupid" and "Get Off Your Ass and Jam." Most of the performance drew from the Funkadelic catalog as an animated, especially at 77, Clinton conducted the entourage of players, singers and rappers -- many of them from Clinton's own family -- through numbers that ranged from sweetly melodic to anthemic to ferociously grooving, occassionally sitting while the group wove its way through the likes of "Pole Power," "Meow Meow," "(Not Just) Knee Deep" and the guitar solo from "Maggot Brain."

As the familiar character of Sir Nose D'voidoffunk struck shirtless poses on stage, "Flash Light" and "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)" were joyous blast-offs that proved the Mothership connectionw as still strong with the small but exuberant crowd. "My Mama Told Me" brought the night into a more contemporary hip-hop realm, while a long vamp through "Atomic Dog," with fans joining P-Funk on the already well-populated stage, fused any barricade between band and audience.

If this proves to be Clinton's last onstage hurrah in these parts, it was a fierce farewell. The force of the funk is still with him, and Thursday's show confirmed it's in good hands with the P-Funk that will continue in his absence.

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