Date: February 2/17/17
Band: Morris Day and The Time
Morris Day: Lead Vocals
Jellybean Johnson: Drums
Tori Ruffin: Lead Guitar
Ricky "Freeze" Smith: Bass Guitar
Monte Moir: Keyboards
Jeff "JMak" McNeeley: Keyboards
Thomas Austin: Percussion, Mirror
Arlington Sayrie: Stage Management
Ed Irons: Sound Technician
What a whirlwind week The Time had: Prince Grammy tribute performance with Bruno Mars to performing on an 80s Cruise and wrapping up with a funk and roll throwdown at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. My partners in funk were Gi Dussault (co-host of the "Upper Room" radio show), Noreen Franklin (famed photographer) and Kevin Franklin (guitarist with the What Up Funk Band). Props to Noreen Franklin for the photos in this review.
Having seen The Time countless times in concert since 1983, I'll clear this off the deck that the Atrium Bar & Lounge was one of the least favorite venues to see the fellas. Nothing horrible about the joint but it was a very tiny spot and the dance floor was jammed 30 minutes before the show. Very hot and my two experiences with elbow to elbow seating: Prince at Roseland in NYC and The Clash in Hartford, CT taught me to step aside to safer surroundings. Thus, we made it out to the perimeter to watch the show. We're used to seeing The Time at Mohegan Sun's Wolf Den (hint hint: Maybe next go-round?)
You are guaranteed that The Time will bring it to every concert with stellar funk and roll , energetic performance and lookin' clean as ever. They can be on stage at the Staples Center or a small area such as The Atrium and you are going to get the same top-level performance. The crowd at Foxwoods consisted of old-school playas and casual bettors who happened to stroll upon one of the baddest bands to wreck a stage.
Prior to going onstage, Jellybean Johnson was stage left looking like Thomas Hearns before stepping into the ring grooving to Prince's "Let's Work" over the sound system. Cool to see musicians prepping before playing. The Time commenced with a nice tribute to Prince with "1999" and then launched into their plethora of Northside Minneapolis hits. Even the neophytes quickly picked up on the C-O-O-L hand gestures. Morris Day appeared emboldened like he was back in his 20s cutting a path of funk and style like no other. The newest member of the band Thomas Austin interacted with Morris smoothly and brought the entertainment meter up several notches.
Monte Moir delivered his trademark keyboard genius and we particularly enjoyed his spotlight on "Gigolos Get Lonely Too". This is the man whose melodies are used in songs like Rihanna's "Work". We're funksters at heart but when you can blend rock, blues and funk with the six-string guitar, it makes it all the more special. Tori Ruffin was electrifying all night on guitar and even led as hype man on the mic.
Jellybean Johnson leaves it all out on the stage. Playing drums ferociously and still tapping out one of the most complex beats on "777-9311", all drummers could go to master class watching Jellybean play at a Time show. Ricky "Freeze" Smith" locks the low-end of the Time's sound and has really taken the original Time bass lines that Prince created and made them his own. Each show I hear different touches and is great for any musicologist. Look out for an upcoming Freeze interview on our radio show on WVOF. Keyboardist Jeff McNeeley touched off one of the highlights of the night when he combined keyboard bass with Freeze's bass on "Ice Cream Castles". I asked JMak about this groove and he smiled and said he had his keyboard bass turned up really high.
Credit goes out to Ed Irons for mixing the house sound. Not the easiest venues to do so and the music sounded great all night and Arlington Sayrie for keeping everyone safe. Tough place to get everyone on and offstage.
We were invited up to the Time's hotel suite for the afterparty and wind down. The members of The Time are just down to earth cats and always nice to catch up with them. We spoke with Morris Day about his new single "Over That Rainbow" for his friend Prince. He was really happy that we are playing it on our radio shows. Monte Moir talked about their performance at the Grammys with Bruno Mars and were really happy how it all went down.
We all got to talking about recent deaths of friends and illnesses. Morris Day really put a lasting stamp on the night with a very emotional speech and I'm paraphrasing: " We need to be thankful for every day that we awake and can put our feet on the floor. If we have food on our table and money in our pockets, that is better than a lot of people". Tori Ruffin said that he has been in the band 22 years and really had me thinking how special these nights have been witnessing the true funk warriors on stage and conversing after the shows.
Thanks to Morris Day and The Time. See you soon in 2017.