By Joel Francis
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City got both versions of the funk Wednesday night in the Crossroads.
New Mayor Mark Funkhouser opened the show with a thanks to all who, “Helped a big white guy get elected mayor.”
He was succeeded at the microphone by a guitarist wearing a diaper who signaled the end of Funkhouser’s reign and the beginning of George Clinton’s.
Initially, the show felt like more of an event than a concert. The sold-out crowd drew from nearly every demographic in the city, creating a festival atmosphere, and “Bop Gun,” the second song of the night, had them all dancing.
Clinton’s troupe, Parliament-Funkadelic, also heightened the atmosphere. Between the Diaper Guitarist, Sir Nose, the Pink Pimp and a back-up signer in a gold shirt and crown, P-Funk has enough personality and characters to rival a Broadway cast. Clinton emerged 40 minutes into the set wearing a black track suit and a shock of bright orange hair.
The show started strong, but it peaked after the first hour. After a strong performance of “The Big Payback” in tribute to James Brown, Clinton tried getting a jam started that went nowhere and took too long getting there. “Dr. Funkenstein” failed to reignite the groove and a trip through the “Maggot Brain,” a proto-metal dual-guitar instrumental and Hendrix-laced bass/guitar/drums jam, pulled the show off course.
Fortunately things got back on track in the final hour. A drastically slowed-down blues arrangement of “One Nation Under A Groove” whetted the appetite for “Flashlight,” which was followed by “Freak of the Week” and “Atomic Dog.”
Clinton closed the show doing the Twist, the Monkey and the Swim to a medley of ’50s rock and roll hits. The man who taught a generation how to dance was reveling in the moves that schooled him.
Even though the show was light on the hits until the end, most people walked out happy. At three-plus hours, there was more than enough to please everyone, even if the best moments came with long intermissions.