Chicago’s City Winery got a taste of the Crescent City as the venerable venue earned a Halloween makeover courtesy of The Meters Experience and its one-of-a-kind broth of funk, blues and all around grooves. Gone were the chairs and tables down front that typically adorn a more relaxed show, and in their place was nothing but a dance floor filled with regularly dressed folks alongside several outrageous consumes that could’ve descended straight from the “Mothership.”
No, the original Meters or the classic line-up of Parliament-Funkadelic may not be actively together at the moment, but put these two powerhouses together in one of the city’s finest rooms, and it nevertheless played out like the best of both worlds.
In addition to featuring Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Leo Nocentelli (guitarist and founding member of the original Meters), this holiday-themed encounter also included Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell (keyboardist, composer and founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic), who collectively provided a two punch promise for a party. Along with a bassist and drummer, the players plowed through many The Meters’ and P-Funk favorites, plus a few improvisational jams that lasted well into the wee hours of the morning.
The former’s “Fire On The Bayou” conjured up the virtual smells of gumbo spilling into the streets of the French Quarter, while the latter’s “Mothership Connection” and “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” burst with some of the night’s zestiest cross-cultural rhythms. Yet the musicianship was arguably at its best when simply going in whatever direction the music led with Nocentelli and Worrell truly living up to the “Icons Of Funk” subtitle that this show so boldly proclaimed during the shuffled up time signatures of “Cissy Strut” and the mostly instrumental “Flashlight.”
More than just a showcase of each distinctive player’s chops, the celebration was also a communal affair with the fans on the floor tossing their hands in the air while shouting out “Hey Pocky A-Way” to mark another Mardi Gras-worthy moment of the masquerade. No, the original Meters or the classic line-up of Parliament-Funkadelic may not be actively together at the moment, but put these two powerhouses together in one of the city’s finest rooms, and it nevertheless played out like the best of both worlds.
Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include The Tubes featuring Fee Waybill (Nov. 1); Funkadesi (Nov. 2); John Sebastian (Nov. 4); Tom Paxton (Nov. 5); The Polyphonic Spree (Nov. 8); Howard Jones (Nov. 9); Vanessa Carlton (Nov. 10); Everclear (Nov. 11); Paula Cole (Nov. 14); Matthew Perryman Jones & Leigh Nash (Nov. 16); Macy Gray (Nov. 18-19); Ari Hest (Nov. 20); Musiq Soulchild (Nov. 24-25); Joseph Arthur and Chuck Prophet (Nov. 27); Eric Burdon & the Animals (Nov. 29) and Louis Prima Jr. & The Witnesses (Nov. 30). For additional details, visit www.citywinery.com/chicago/.