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Photography: Glyn Akroyd / @GlynAkroyd

GEORGE CLINTON & PARLIAMENT

02 Academy 29/7/16

Tonight the people pile through the doors of the Academy to witness a spectacle 45 years in the making. It’s barely past seven and already the place is filling up.

The most striking thing about an event such as this is that in the crowd are the among the most diverse groups of people I’ve ever seen gather in a room together. There are punks next to middle-class suburbanites, outsider hippy types stood next to well-dressed trendies and the obvious group: the hip hop heads, the b-boys and girls, here feeling as though they’re meeting their maker. The point is, all these people are occupying the same space and spirits could not be higher. That is the power of the funk.

As the No Fakin’ DJs end their warm-up mix, Mr GEORGE CLINTON, the Godfather of Funk, strolls up to the stage followed by his band members, who form PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC. The first part of the set is split between funk tracks and pieces from the band members’ various solo careers. Although Clinton has always been the band leader, he’s also frequently testified to his desire for members to use the band as a vehicle for their own creative outlets. To that end, for a brief while Clinton takes a back seat while we’re treated to some more contemporary tracks from the vocalists. Some of the music is astounding, but a certain section of the audience seems indifferent. After all, they’ve waited a long time to hear their favourite P.Funk tracks and this is not that.

Before long, though, the classics come through thick and fast as we’re given a history lesson in funk. Right from P.Funk, with Clinton’s cool monologues still sounding fresh, through to Flash Light, One Nation Under A Groove, Atomic Dog and the timeless, beguiling Maggot Brain, with a refreshed dynamism and with the legendary Blackbird McKnight taking over the late, great Eddie Hazel on guitar wailing duties. It’s almost tear-inducing. The crowd are hanging on every movement, every nuance of sound that the band make. No stone is left unturned as we’re given a glimpse of present-day Funkadelic with Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?. Calling this set well-rounded just wouldn’t quite fit. Perfect is the word.

Everybody in the room is moving, and the heat keeps going up and, truly, this is nothing but a party. Not since 1971 has the infamous Star Child led his band of Funkateers to our shores but, after 45 years, Clinton’s back and better than ever. Welcome back, the dealers of the funky music. P funk. Uncut funk. The bomb.

Christopher Carr

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