Tonight we’re going to break all the rules”. And with that simple statement the Mothership known as Bootsy Collins & The Funk University landed in Uptown to spread the gospel according to funk on a very ready New Orleans packed-house crowd inside Tipitina’s, a legend among legendary music haunts in the Crescent City. Small and intimate, once it fills up, there is no going anywhere. The stage is in-your-face and when Bootsy brought on his 13–piece band, it was popping at the seams.
Kicking off with some motivating rap via Bootsy’s son Ouiwey, the crowd was primed for some hip-grinding groove moves. With horns, keys, bass, guitars, drums, go-go dancers and full-swing extra vocalists, Bootsy took command of his tribe and unleashed some pulsating rhythms for the next couple of hours.
Some things will never change and Bootsy is definitely one of those too cool musicians who will always be decked out, bedazzling his flock with sequins, bass lines, and songs about how your life would be so much better if you were living and breathing the almighty funk. Sauntering onstage in an elaborate long black and gold cape with matching headpiece full of feathers, Bootsy saluted the city he was in and cranked out a “Who Dat? in that black and gold? Bootsy!!” sing-a-long.
Bootsy Collins has been in the funk business for so many years that you would think that maybe his stage show would become old and dusty and perhaps just a little worn around the edges. I am here to tell you that it is definitely NOT. Bootsy and his musical shenanigans are as fresh as ever and his band are as hot as ever. Featuring the great TM Stevens, who took over the spotlight when Bootsy would exit the stage for an outfit change, he charged up the crowd with a spitfire rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Purple Haze” that the guitar god would probably bow down to himself. It was that awesome, with former Parliament/Funkadelic guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight not going overboard on the guitar fireworks; actually keeping it toned down to a cool explosion.
Another standout was the slide into “Red Hot Mama” from a funktastic rendition of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Higher”, where the band was jamming the hell out. Right at that moment there was no other place you wanted to be because the roof was burning and the hands were waving and you were just feeling it in every muscle of your body. Shouting out to the youth of the world, Stevens begged for them to “listen to Uncle TM” and do three things for him: “stop texting and use your mouth”, “turn your damn cell phone off” and “turn off the computer”. Later in the night, Bootsy would also have his say to another certain demographic, politicians “who are trying to take my funk, our feelings and our life”.
Sparkling in a long bright blue cape and pink head feathers for his second appearance, Bootsy was feeling the moment several times, caressing his “Space Bass” like it was a soft child, smiling to an unseen funk god above, before changing one last time into another gold concoction that he stripped down to a black t-shirt and bandana to get human with the crowd.
There is no denying that Bootsy has still got it and with his stellar backing ensemble, he has no fear of having to slow things down. Out promoting his latest endeavor, THA FUNK CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, he is setting the Mothership down in cities across the nation. You should be there. Cause like Bootsy said, “We still got the fire”.