As an artist in his own right and as a sideman for James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament, not to mention Bootsy Collins and Prince, Maceo Parker‘s pedigree is unrivalled, and for that reason a capacity crowd turned out on a bleak November night to pay homage to one of the last of the 20th century’s pop musical greats. The North Carolinan brought his stuttering, pitch perfect funk-jazz to the occasion beneath the Chelsea FC pitch, his musical mix still marking him out as a man thoroughly immersed in a music so brilliant that he exists outside the mainstream in a current still surging of its own accord. Funk, it seems, is an ageless music, just like its practitioners.
But this was a gig that proved Parker can still hit his marks after 50 years in the business. His skull glistening under the lights and clad in a black suit and shirt and white necktie, his wedding ring glinting, he and his six-piece band charged into the set with ‘This Funk Is Off The Hook’, followed by ‘Satin Doll’, ‘Make It Funky’, ‘The Look of Love’ (trombone and keyboards only), ‘Gimme Some More’, ‘Gonna Have a Funky Good Time’, a misplaced version of ‘Let’s Get It On’ and ‘Pass The Peas’.
The female vocalist helped temper matters and as Maceo danced and sang (very well as it happened), the driving bass of Rodney ‘Skeet’ Curtis held together a gig that had been judiciously peppered with medleys. Yet despite the occasional feeling of being short changed by an absence of full-throated classics (Maceo did not play ‘Cross The Track’, for instance), he managed to hook the crowd, remaining a player who need not ever worry about his standing in the musical firmament because it’s a firmament he helped create. If you missed him this time, make sure you catch him on the rebound.