Monday, June 24, 2013

Twice As Funky

Saturday June 22nd, 2013 – Country Club Hills, IL

   The only thing I can think of that’s better than a funk fix is a double dose. That’s exactly what I got tonight in Country Club Hills, IL as I attended a live show featuring my two favorite musical acts of all time Cameo and George Clinton. That doesn’t happen often, so I had to see the show.

   I had never even heard of Country Club Hills until quite recently, but it’s a far southern suburb of Chicago that built a really nice outdoor concert facility. The weather could not have been any more perfect, and it was an ideal scenario for one of the best live shows I’ve seen in a long time.

   I’ve seen Cameo at least a dozen times, and they’re headliners in their own right. They’ve had double digit R&B hits, but their biggest crossover by far was ‘Word Up’ in 1986. I have all their CDs, and am a huge fan. They’ve got a strikingly distinct eclectic style, and I’ve always loved it.

   Their lead singer Larry Blackmon is known for wearing a codpiece on stage, and it has become his trademark. I’ve thought about trying it myself, but I don’t think comedy is ready for that just yet. It works for him though, and he and the rest of the band put on a rock solid hour long show.

   Unfortunately it wasn’t a sold out house, but those who were there loved it. I don’t know what the place holds, but I’d guess it was about half full. I had a great seat, ten rows back dead center. I could see and hear everything perfectly, and it made my 70 mile one way drive worth the effort.

   There was some tear down and set up time between the acts, but that’s to be expected. It wasn’t horrible, but by the time the transport vans pulled up behind the stage with George and the band in them, everyone was ready for the main course. It still wasn’t sold out, but we were all into it.

   I’ve seen George live probably 40-50 times now, but I have to say this was one of the very best performances I’ve ever seen. George has always been a master showman, but tonight he cranked it up to the limit and the more he did it the more we loved it. Nobody walked away disappointed.

   I read an article once where George said one thing he was always good at was hiding the fact if anything was going wrong either personally or with the band. It was always about the show. That can be extremely hard to pull off, and I know from plenty of firsthand and personal experience. 

   In the last year or two, George has experienced a lot of passings of people close to him. He lost both his mother and one of his sons, along with guitar players Garry Shider and Cordell ‘Boogie’ Mosson. He also lost singers Belita Woods and Mallia Franklin. It has been a very tough stretch, but nobody would have known it tonight. He came out with a vengeance and took no prisoners.

   He made his customary grand entrance with the song ‘Cosmic Slop’, but then took it to another level by going up into the crowd at the outdoor theatre. I’ll bet he went a dozen rows up slapping hands, and it won the crowd over immediately. I’d seen him do similar things before, but not like this. It was like he was a man possessed, and was bound and determined to give us his best show.

   The band was on fire tonight, and they only played the biggest hits. They switched the order of how they usually do it, and that was good to see because I switch my order of bits around when I read the audience. I’m glad it’s not just me. George was soaked in sweat by the end of the night, but he made sure we got our money’s worth and more. He was all over that stage, and on a level I’ve rarely seen. He made everyone forget he’s 72. This was a night to remember. What a show! 
Dr. Funkenstein - Still funky at 72.


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