Morris Day and The Time
Twilight Concert Series
Santa Monica Pier
"A feeling just came over me. I'm feeling sexy right now. I want to share that sexiness with each and every one of you" said Morris Day on Thursday night as he held court from a large, futuristic stage set up on the Santa Monica Pier. Day and his seven-piece touring group, The Time, were there to open the 31st annual Twilight Concert series at the pier, free to the public.
One only needs to look to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars's 'Uptown Funk' to understand the influence the band and its fearless pimp-suited leader have had on a younger generation. Day acknowledged as much when about midway through the hour-long set he said: "I can kiss myself I'm so pretty…where do you think he gets that stuff from, Santa Monica?"
Despite his claims to not be sweating newer competition ("I don't sweat, I condensate") most likely, Day is flattered. On the band's official Facebook page is a video clip of Mark Ronson's Brit Award acceptance speech for 'Uptown Funk' in which Ronson acknowledges the Time's influence.
Most of the concert-goers came early, staking a claim to a spot on the sand next to the pier. Food vendors and a cash wine and beer bar lined the boardwalk in front of the stage. L.A. native Dȃm-Funk (he's the co-founder of the weekly Funkmosphere at The Virgil) sent his solitary brand of funkiness into the salty air, at times busting out a keytar.
I approached a middle-aged man who was lined up near the front of the stage. Originally from Minneapolis, he is local a keyboardist named Ethan Baker (aka "Shake n'Bake") and tells me he likes to see Morris Day and the Time whenever they are in town. "Morris Day is a true entertainer. He's from the old school. He doesn't just stand there; he performs…that's what people came to see, a true performer. I remember Morris Day and them back in the days…he played with Prince and Grand Central."
Morris Day is forever linked with The Purple One. Over 35 years ago, when Prince and Day were mere teenagers, they formed a band (that was Grand Central.) They split, but later Prince put together another band, as a counterpoint to his own and called it The Time. Morris and his band then became famous when he was cast as Prince's arch-nemesis and leader of a rival band, in the cult classic movie Purple Rain.
The current lineup consists of three original Time members: Day, keyboardist Monte Moir and the legendary drummer Jellybean Johnson.
The group took to the stage to a sonorous synth, turning their backs turned to the audience. Then Day came out in full zoot-suit regalia, diamond rings flashing, leading the band in "Get Up"
then "Cool." Each song pounded into the next as Day and his valet–a butler character named Jerome in the movie– went through tightly choreographed dance moves. The act wouldn't be complete without his valet bringing out a large mirror so he could wipe the sweat of his brow and primp.
At one point, he exited the stage only to reemerge in a white trench; taking it to sultry heights with 'Gigolos Get Lonely Too.' His voice, honey-smooth, has held up wonderfully over the years. A lady was pulled from the audience who was willing to get a "little bit sexy and a little bit nasty." This call was for an erotic guitar solo that later evolved into a gaggle of volunteers being pulled on the stage for a collective booty shake.
The set ended with "The Bird" and "Jungle Love" amongst much audience participation. Spent, Day pulled a large white hanky from his pocket, wiped his brow and tossed it to the audience. Then he whipped out another, repeated and left the stage, leaving the audience in rapture of funk and nostalgia.
An editorial and feature writer specializing in music, beer, fashion and entertainment, Christine’s work has appeared both online and in print including October Magazine (Pitchfork, Conde Nast), and, of course, the award-winning OC Weekly. As a graduate of Cal State Fullerton’s acting program, she was a two-time nominee for the Irene Ryan award. She lives with her bass-playing, fishing-obsessed husband on the “real” side of Anaheim.