Concert Review: George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic throw concert party
Funk legend George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic collective brought their iconic funk to the Howard Theatre on Feb. 18. More than 12 performers filled the theater’s sizable stage for close to two hours, and performed a seamless set of jam-heavy songs from across the extensive Parliament Funkadelic repertoire.
Flanked by rappers, dancing backup singers, and a full band, Clinton swaggered around stage with the cool charismatic authority of a performance veteran. The 73-year-old bandleader, sporting a red blazer and thick round-rim glasses, showcased his distinctive, genre defining funk in an impressive set covering most of his 40-year-long career.
The band’s expansive sound was punctuated with staggering saxophone features, blistering guitar solos and even an improvised scat breakdown. The Parliament Funkadelic lineup featured children and even grandchildren of original members - some of whom were also on stage. The entire theater, including balcony seating, turned into a dancefloor as the show began with the opening of their song “P-Funk” rumbling out from the stage.
“Good evening, do not attempt to adjust your radio, there is nothing wrong,” said the pre-recorded intro. “We have taken control to bring you this special show - we’ll return it to you as soon as you’re grooving.”
The funk collective moved seamlessly from song to song, and transformed classic tracks like “Atomic Dog,” “Bop Gun” and “Flashlight” into richly layered jam sessions. Clinton spent as much time in the spotlight as any other member of Parliament Funkadelic, and the performance showcased an impressive assembly of musical talent.
Set highlights included Hendrix-inspired guitar solos in “Flashlight” and a nearly 15-minute version of “Give Up the Funk” that turned into an on-stage dance party. Several crowd members near the stage climbed on during the classic song, and even more were invited by George Clinton, himself. The night ended on a high note, as crowd members of all ages danced with the funk icon and his troupe of top-notch musicians.
“Thank you all for being so groovy with us tonight,” said Bernie Worell, a founding member of Parliament Funkadelic member. “This is why we love D.C.”