The George Clinton that appeared to a rousing ovation on Wednesday was not quite the George Clinton the crowd may have expected.
Gone are the rainbow-ribboned dreadlocks and the shimmering sci-fi robes. Instead, Clinton was nattily dressed in a white fedora and a white-and-pink-checkered jacket, a look more reminiscent of Thelonious Monk than of Dr. Funkenstein. Despite the image change, his stiff walk, and his occasional retirement to a stool while his able band members took the spotlight, Clinton steered the P-Funk mother ship with vigor as always, part front man, part conductor, part ringmaster, part cheerleader.
The generational mix in the audience was proof of P-Funk's appeal, both through its own music and through the sampling of so much of its work in hip-hop - which was folded into the repertoire along with touches of jazz, hard rock, and gospel, ample evidence of Clinton's vision and influence.
The rambling set, which Clinton called on the spot with an occasional "What you gonna do, G?" from the band when pauses between songs lingered a bit too long, veered through many of the best-known hits from the P-Funk catalog, beginning with "Mothership Connection (Star Child)" and including "One Nation Under a Groove," "Up for the Down Stroke," and "Atomic Dog." Clinton's nemesis, Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk, made an appearance during "Flashlight" in the form of a chiseled dancer clad in white furs, and longtime Funkadelic guitarist Michael Hampton added searing guitar work to "Maggot Brain" and "(Not Just) Knee Deep" late into the night.