Chants of “We ... want ... the funk” filled the air as the crowd waited for George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic to take the stage at the Majestic Ventura Theater. And funk of the P-Funk variety is what we got — two hours of grooves from the legendary Dr. Funkenstein and his massive crew of funk-makers.
Their show started off with the Funkadelic songs: “I Bet You,” “I Wanna Know If It’s Good to You” and “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks.” “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” That’s right, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” These all flowed together, with snippets of other songs like “P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” bubbling in and out of our consciousness.
These were followed by Parliament’s infectious “Dr. Funkenstein,” which sums it all up nicely: “We love to funk you, Funkenstein / Your funk is the best.” Yes, funk indeed is its own reward.
The groove kept going with “Mr. Wiggles” and “Flash Light”, and then Clinton’s granddaughter Sativa sang “Something Stank and I Want Some,” during which the elder Clinton’s “I want some” pleadings were rewarded with a smoke handed onstage. This offering was later reciprocated with champagne poured into the mouths of the funkateers up at the front, including that of at least one fearless music critic from Santa Barbara.
The proceedings continued in various permutations of the band, with calls to and responses from the crowd, and the appearance of the seemingly zero body fat Sir Nose (Carlos McMurray) balancing on his hands on the PA speakers and dancing with a lady funkateer pulled up onstage.
A highlight for me was “Maggot Brain,” with an ear-splitting, brain-melting guitar solo by “Kidd Funkadelic” Michael Hampton based on the late Eddie Hazel’s original, but with its own unique flair. What a way to rise above it all.
After this, Garrett Shider (the late Diaperman Garry’s son) led the hit song “One Nation Under a Groove,” which morphed into another classic, “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker).” “Ow, we want the funk / Give up the funk / Ow, we need the funk / We gotta have that funk.”
The evening began with a cool set by the rollerskates-and-fishnets-and-short-shorts-wearing Parliament Funkadelic singer Kim Manning, who was celebrating the release of her groovin’ solo album Good People. Manning was backed by GrooveSession and the theatrical Diatomacious Love Dance and Aerial troupe. A standout song in her set was “I Am Good People,” which is a mix of P-Funk and the sounds of fellow funk-pioneers Sly and the Family Stone.
When ya gotta have that funk, ya really gotta make your funk the P-Funk. Funkalicious, y’all, funkalicious!
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.