And yet there they were, live onstage “across the river” playing the funk instrumentals, funky covers and original Meters classics that had every Tulane alumni and the rest of us Funk Junkies shaking our asses and grinning ear to ear. Over the course of three nights, the band worked themselves back into prime playing form and showed why it is that “the Meters will funk you to death.” There were repeats played. But if you only made it to one show, you were given a great sampling of the 40-plus year history of the group.
Tuesday night started off with (The World Is A Little Bit Under The Weather) Doodle Oop and included Africa, Just Kissed My Baby and Ain’t No Use.
Wednesday night included favorites Love Slip Up On Ya, Soul Island and People Say. Near the end of the set there was an extended jam on the Sly Stone classics Sing A Simple Song and I Want to Take You Higher that featured Eric Krasno on guitar, Adam Deitch on drums and Nigel Hall on vocals [These three had just come from playing a set as the Nigel Hall Band at Rockwood Music Hall on Manhattan’s Bowery].
Thursday night started earlier than the other two as it was supposed to be over by 11pm for ?uestlove of The Roots to DJ. Instead it turned out to be the longest show of the stand. The set included a bit of everything from Dylan’s Rainy Day Women through a killer jam of Cissy Strut seguing into Stephen Stills’ Love The One You’re With. And before it was all over we were treated to Art signing the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider, a second jam on Sly’s Sing A Simple Song – this time with Krasno, ?uestlove on drums and Nikki Glaspie on cowbell – and Hey Pocky Way. And after some cajoling by club owner Peter Shapiro, the four members of the band returned to the stage for an encore of Keep On Stretching (Your Rubber Band) & The All Ask’d For You.
There are several bands in the history of American popular music whose worth was held more highly by members of their own musical brotherhood than the public. Little Feat and The Band come to mind. But if you made it to Brooklyn this past week as a “virgin” or one of the faithful followers, it is clear why Paul McCartney once hired these men to play his Venus And Mars album premiere party and why The Rolling Stones took them on their tours in 1975 & ’76. But as they walked off the stage and prepared to return home to N’awlins, we were all left with one question: Will we really have to wait another five years?