Posted: Jul 25, 2007 4:45 am
looks like sly might be getting his shit together
Concert review: Olympia (Paris, France)
An article by Blaise Schmitter - Funk-U Magazine (Paris) - July 24, 2007
On my ass! Floored! I can't find the adjectives or the words to describe what we experienced today! I will make mine the words of the Bible in response to the skeptical people who voiced (loudly) their opinions before the shows urging people not to go and see the phantom of somebody who once ruled the musical world. "Happy will be those who have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20,24-29). And then, Jesus talking to Peter said to him: "Man of little faith, why did you doubt me ?" (Matthew). Well you guessed right! transformed into a Funk Apostle, I come to you to preach the Gospel by dear brothers & sisters! From about 40 comments from dear and knowledgeable friends, only one was on the downside compared to all of us, instant Funk Disciples and Apostles. And this is good because, without this sour note, one could think that we were bribed, forced into saying what we want to say or God knows what else!
Personally, I had arrived at the venue expecting nothing, after looking at the YouTube and Dailymotion videos of the Montreux & Nice festivals, and reading the dreadful reports or, to say the least, comments that would certainly not drive one into fan hysteria, even as lukewarm a can be. I was indeed expecting nothing or perhaps, seeing an old and tired man who would only strut episodically on stage, would sing even less, and would even inspire pity beyond to those who would come to see him...
None of that! True, he didn't stay for the entire set on stage, and before he first came out there were still enormous waves of doubt. One just had to look at Vet Stone, who was constantly turning to the back of the stage looking for a sign of the roadies or the sound engineer to know if her beloved brother would finally take her off the hook and finally appear. That hesitation and musical gap after the second song, prompted the public and the other unfaithful people to start boo-eing and chanting 'WE WANT SLY!'... In a word, one could feel the wind of the cannon ball passing close by, when suddenly, Sly rushed onstage and towards his microphone, putting an end to the suspense. Yes, he'd be there!.
'If You Want Me To Stay'... Magical moment. The voice was there, almost unchanged after all these years. At first not very loud and then he started blowing in his pipes. HALLELUJAH my brethren. It didn't take long to discover that he was in a good day -bar- an EXCELLENT DAY ! His huge smile didn't wear off during the rest of the set, he certainly looked frail and his shoulders arched with his head hanging forward but without a minerve around his neck, an afro wig secured on his forehead by a black stringcourse. Sporting XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL size overalls, covered with NBA team logos, and huge strass-lined glasses, truly a funk icon outfit! Everywhere I turned, I could only see smiling faces in the crowd.
Sly's niece (Lisa Stone; daughter of Rose Stone) got her props. she sung so well and hard while Sly "Im Going To Take A Piss'" Stone walked off stage, she got a huge response every time she got close to her mike. Sly's very own sis, Vet, also did well, while Cynthia, dancing like a lunatic with her 3 horn blowing mates, including the great Pat Rizzo. Looking at first pretty weak, he stumbled over a monitor and almost crashed, then he couldn't even take the mike off it's holder without help from a roadie, Sly got increasingly confident, thanks perhaps to the unbelievable and immediate response from the audience which screamed all the lyrics, then he started to do a few dance steps, and walked over to the singers for a couple of jokes, and then suddenly approached the edge of the stage looking at the huge power cables running on the floor at his feet, like he was trying not to get entangled in them, but that was not what he was looking at!
He suddenly jumped off the stage. Mind you the Olympia Theatre stage is VERY high (easily over 1.7 meter) doesn't even tumble when he gets down there and starts to shake hands with the front row crowd! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Back from the dead! Now it's Lazarus miracle and St Thomas who come to the rescue, because who would have believed this if I hadn't, with me most of my friends who can testify I am not bullshitting, anyone who reads this report. WE SAW THIS! I can still remember the stunned look on my friend's Joachim face and in his eyes. He was standing between the first row and the stage with all the press photographers when Sly jumped right over him. We were in synch at that very moment, no need for words to understand each other: That man is crazy and we're watching history happen before our very eyes! It's just an extraordinary moment.
One can clearly see that Sly i shaving a GREAT time, because instead of coming twice and for a very limited time onstage like most of the shows he's done since his concert comeback in Anaheim (CA) at the beginning of the year, he will finally be with us more than 4 times even when nobody (including Vet) expects him at the end of 'Thank You (Falettin me be mice elf again)'. On this particular track the bass player (brother of the musical director who played guitar and keys) started playing an intro which got the few who were still seating at the balcony up and had them shaking their booties in no time!
'You get some, you give back some' that's the words he said right before throwing at us his necklace and a minute later his jacket! Needless to say, we almost got a riot going on among the people who were close to where this stuff landed!
But I almost forgot to let you know how intensely Sly sung, sometimes so happy to sing it with this crowd that he took over some of the lyrics which were supposed to be sung by his background singers. Vet turned around a few times when Sly did that kind if thing, not believing what she was hearing! Her brother wants some and he sure means it! The first bars gone, he let everyone know that his pipes are in pristine condition and that he can surely BLOW! He stomps his feet when he launches "Stand!" even though he barely used the two keyboards set on stage for him.
Surely this is no Woodstock, but very sincerely, at no point during the show did I find myself pitying the frail silhouette, because when he's on stage, he's really focused! Not some kind of remote controlled ectoplasm, or the evanescent bail for band which despite a few hesitations, adapts itself to their leader, and doing a very nice job at it.
The drummer is having such a good time that at one point he loses one of his drumsticks which he replaced in the same beat! The gig is short, that's for sure, but I've known worse in my many years of concert-going, and this intensity and charisma got sure conveyed the message loud and clear to the audience. Nonetheless, no encore and the lights went on as soon as the last musician left stage. The audience shouted and stomped their feet, to no avail. But we all got our extra large dose of Funk and we leave the building without being frustrated and without having reached overdose status. That leaves us fresh and ready for another visit!
All the friends I was able to talk to afterwards, looked the same with a wide grin on their face, all stunned by the performance of one of the last icons of American music, and conscious of the privilege we all had to be there at the right time and in the right place.
RESPECT to you Mr Stewart... this evening will stay in our minds a long long time. Having come with a little apprehension, we all came out irradiated with the FUNK...! That was the place to be on that July 23rd 2007 if you wanted to verify that old say: TRUE LEGENDS NEVER DIE!