In order to exhaustively address everything from the various periods of George Clinton, Parliament, Funkadelic and their endless offshoots, it would take nearly a lifetime. Nonetheless, one of the most exalted figures in funk and a massive cast of at least 15 supporting players gave Thalia Hall the most realistic option, turning in a generous, two-and-a-half hour set that went well beyond the shorter scope when the troupe shares a multi-act bill.
The Mardi Gras-like mood kept right on building as the singers and players (plus the extremely flexible Sir Nose) rolled right on through “(Not Just) Knee Deep,” “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” and “Atomic Dog,” all with just as much bark as back in the day.
That meant a chance to begin with selections from “First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate,” the group’s latest project and first to bear the Funkadelic name in 33 years, which accounts for 33 tracks spread across three discs. As has always been the case, current cuts “Pole Power” and “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?” (later recorded with Kendrick Lamar and Ice Cube for a remix) were fascinating examples of the band’s forward-thinking experiments with chunky rhythms, psychedelic rock n’ soul and glimpses of hip-hop.
Even much older tracks, such as “Get Off Your A** And Jam,” “Cholly (Funk Getting Ready To Roll!)” and “Everything Is On The One,” sounded way ahead of their time and unlike anything else out there today thanks to Clinton’s refusal to ever submit to format conventions. Though “Dr. Funkenstein” isn’t quite as mobile or vocal as he was when first earning that informal degree, the 75-year-old is still a legendary presence who rarely left the stage and can rev up a crowd like few others.
After all, he’s right up there with James Brown and Sly Stone in terms of groundbreaking significance, which was further demonstrated to this sold out (and sometimes costumed) crowd with transfixing versions of “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” and “Maggot Brain.” The Mardi Gras-like mood kept right on building as the singers and players (plus the extremely flexible Sir Nose) rolled right on through “(Not Just) Knee Deep,” “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” and “Atomic Dog,” all with just as much bark as back in the day.
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For a list of upcoming shows at Thalia Hall, visit ThaliaHallChicago.com.