War & George Clinton And P-Funk Get Funky At L.A.’s Greek Theatre

first_imgFunk music is having a moment, if not enjoying an outright renaissance, albeit under tricky cultural circumstances. Predominantly white bands (Vulfpeck, Turkuaz, Lawrence, etc.) and producers (Mark Ronson) have done their part to re-popularize an African-American art form that’s seen some of its heroes die (Prince) or approach retirement (George Clinton), and to some, this could be considered an act of cultural appropriation. That doesn’t mean, though, that there isn’t room in today’s expansive music scene for people of all races, colors, and creeds to have the funk or for the genre’s forebears to reclaim it one last time, if not more. Such was certainly true when George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic joined War on the bill for a show at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles over Memorial Day Weekend.For Clinton, whose retirement is nigh, it was to be his final live performance in the City of Angels. And though the 76-year-old was featured throughout Parliament’s set, as much with his gravelly vocals as in his floppy white frock, he clearly ceded some of the spotlight to his younger bandmates. Still, even when he sat while P-Funk brought the crowd to its feet, Clinton was no less lording over the musical remnants of what Afrofuturism had brought to music decades later. Whether encouraging the audience to get “Up For The Down Stroke”, freak dancing with a fan during “(Not Just) Knee Deep”, tearing the roof off to “Give Up the Funk”, barking up a storm to “Atomic Dog”, or illuminating the hills above L.A. with his “Flashlight”, Clinton and his cohort not only recreated the spirit that has set them apart in the sonic world over the years, but breathed new life into it with hints (if not heaping helpings) of hip-hop and soul.War, meanwhile, had long since parted ways with Eric Burdon by the time the band took the stage at the Greek. The Long Beach, California-based band was no worse for wear without its British-born singer, who played a show in London with current band leader Lonnie Jordan in 2008 but hasn’t sat in with the entire band since the 1970s. In truth, most of the lineup that was on hand to perform timeless classics like “Low Rider”, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”, “Slippin’ Into Darkness”, “Cisco Kid”, “All Day Music”, and “Spill The Wine” was entirely different from the one that took the charts by storm back in the band’s heyday.In some respects, though, the version of War that joined Jordan this time was plenty faithful to the group’s Southern California roots while churning out tunes that were every bit as vibrant as the originals. Not that the crowd was quite so on-point as he was. Jordan alternately regaled attendees with tales of touring (and indulging) with Bob Marley and The Wailers and chastised them for not being able to properly recite the lyrics to “Cisco Kid” beyond the iconic opening line.It seems, then, that there’s still work to be done to ensure that funk music, in all its far-flung forms, stays true to its roots. That’s as much a task for the artists as for the fans, be they long-time followers or recent converts. George Clinton won’t be carrying the torch much longer. Who knows how long War will cradle that baton for itself? Whoever and however funk moves forward, it will likely do so as both an infusion into other genres and a style that stands alone, thriving on the efforts of a multicultural cast of characters in a music world where the lines that once divided categories become blurrier by the day.last_img

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