Live: George Clinton Rasps His Way Through Another P-Funk Spectacular At Wingate Field


Not from this show, no, but it is called “George Clinton humps an alien”

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic/The Ohio Players
Wingate Field
Monday, July 12

“Yes, it’s me,” croaks George Clinton, materializing maybe a half-hour into P-Funk’s dependably rambling, bewildering, and nonetheless wildly entertaining set Monday night, and we appreciate the clarification. His trademark rainbow locks are long gone, replaced by a doo-rag and a notably wearier countenance, though that’s not nearly as alarming as his voice, a barely human plutonium-gargling Tom-Waits-of-funk rasp that’d have us all a lot more concerned if, you know, “Flashlight” weren’t playing.

I love this MLK series of free Monday-night shows (Salt-N-Pepa!), if only for the hilariously interminable Marty Markowitz monologue that invariably precedes them, also involving various city councilman, a long prayer, the National Anthem, a parade of radio DJs, and Spike Lee (!), who introduces the Ohio Players with “From the state that gave you Lebron James!” and seems genuinely surprised at the torrent of boos that result. (“Love Rollercoaster,” though.) Given the free, block party, bring-your-own-lawn-chair vibe, the music itself calmly fades in and out of the background, which is useful for P-Funk in 2010: The stage packed with wildly dolled up eccentrics who look and act way more like George Clinton than Clinton himself does anymore (the Furry Guy, Scantily Clad Opera Lady, etc.), they play essentially one giant-ass medley, a torrent of catch phrases and thundering basslines and exuberant horn vamps pouring forth seemingly at random. “That’s one long-ass song,” someone mutters, during a rare moment of complete silence.

As usual, Clinton is rarely the focal point as such, though perhaps that’s for the best: When he starts barking “LET ME! TAKE YOU! LET ME! TAKE YOU!” during “Sentimental Journey,” the journey gets markedly less sentimental. But then again, he fits easily into the total-chaos tableau here, pulling out his granddaughter for a few minutes of alarmingly lascivious raps and by no means dulling the impact of “Atomic Dog” and what have you. “(Not Just) Knee Deep” is particularly joyous, now of such vintage that the rappers who sampled it themselves headlined an old-school hip-hop festival this past weekend, but a pleasure it remains. George is not exactly aging gracefully, no, but would you expect, or accept, anything less?