Parliament/Funkadelic has been the most progresssive dance band around for several years. Their current tour is their first without George Clinton, their founder, producer, songwriter and lead singer. With Clinton staying home to work in the studio, more of the spotlight was available for the other talented artists in the band at the Capital Centre last night.
Clinton's troupe includes more than two dozen performers who align in different combinations for different acts. The first combination was the Brides of Frankenstein, featuring three female singers. Shelia Horn stood out for her sensual harmonies on a Motown ballad and her wild scatting behind the familiar funk chants.
Next up was Funkadelic, a 17-member big band with an emphasis on rock 'n' roll guitars. Guitarists Michael Hampton and Garry Shider each took stunning post-Hendrix solos. Bernie Worrell tamed the multitude of sounds coming from the synthesizers into real music. Jessica Cleaves (formerly of Earth, Wind and Fire) sand gorgeously as her wail floated through one harmony after another.
Last up was Parliament, with much the same personnel as Funkadelic but playing more commerical dance music. Shider and saxophonist Macco Parker emerged as more than capable leaders in Clinton's absence. Despite the basic beat, the vocal and horn arrangements were always full of surprises. The highlight of the night was a vocal tour de force by Philippe Wynne (formerly of the Sinners) on Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."