Funky Meters – Brooklyn Bowl – October 3, 2013
On the first of a three-night residency at Brooklyn Bowl, legendary New Orleans funk-jazz group the Funky Meters warmed up with an unrelenting two-hour set. The four-piece band, made up of half of the original Meters lineup, twisted and transitioned their way through all sorts of music, including everything from old standards to Jimi Hendrix covers. The feel-good show got started when bassist and de facto frontman George Porter Jr. asked the crowd to help wish a friend a happy birthday via speakerphone, a funny little moment that helped set the vibe as the Funky Meters launched into their set.
From there, the four musicians showed that age hasn’t taken their stamina—especially that of acclaimed keyboardist Art Neville’s—as they ripped through a 20-minute jam that began with a touch of “House of the Rising Sun” before shifting into “Going Back to New Orleans” and then peaking with their own “Africa.” It was jams like this that kept the set moving all night, with Porter Jr. clearly calling audibles as the band would transition between songs. “I spent all afternoon writin’ a set list that we ain’t played two songs off of,” he joked, to which Neville responded “We don’t need no set list! Are any of y’all complaining about what we’re playing?”
They laughed their way into the start of “Just Kissed My Baby,” during which each member showcased his solo chops. From there, a little “Welcome to New Orleans” turned into “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” and plenty more followed, proving that the New Orleans band’s set, like their career, is not a sprint but a groovy marathon that hardly stops. —Sean O’Kane