From the announcement of this show, I thought it was a rather interesting bill. Trombone Shorty, the young New Orleans funk musician paired with one of the greatest Funkateers of All Time, Bootsy Collins? On paper it might not work, but on a live bill at Jazz Festival it was the perfect concoction.
Trombone Shorty started off the night and he’s one of the most entertaining dudes I’ve ever seen live. The 25 year old Shorty (nee Troy Andrews) mans several duties on stage–trumpet and trombone player, crooner, MC, and band leader among others. He does 5 things better than most artist does 1. His theatrics are over the top–as he gives secret hand signals to the band to start and stop songs or flip instrumentals. In addition, he held a single note on his trumpet for over 2 minutes. Dizzy would be proud.
If Trombone Shorty got the audience hype, then Bootsy would continue to liven the crowd with his brand of West Coast funk right? Unfortunately no. After a 45 minute break between sets, Bootsy came on after 11. After several minutes of his hypemen warming up the audience, Bootsy appeared in all of his gold glory. Unfortunately, he was only on stage for one song as he disappeared for almost 25 minutes for a costume change.
Yes, Bootsy’s band is more than capable of holding the audience’s attention for multiple periods of time. His guitarists are the best in the business. If you’ve ever been to a Parliament show (or any old school funk show) then you know that they bring it 110%. But unfortunately throughout the band’s Jimi Hendrix Tribute and old school medleys, the crowd started dwindling.
It could be that Montreal was not ready for Booty’s level of funk. Or it could be that people had to catch the Metro and work the next day. Whatever it was toward the end of the night around 12:30, Metropolis was half full. I almost felt sad for Bootsy and his band. WTF? A legend playing to empty seats? Wow.
It didn’t phase Bootsy as he played on as if it were Madison Square Garden in its prime. At the end of the night he even got in the middle of the crowd for a Soul Train style line dance. Those who stayed around were not disappointed.
End of the night let-downs notwithstanding, Bootsy and Trombone put on some of the best shows in the business. The former impressed more than the latter, but both shows should be attended if they roll through your town.