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Q concert great addition to Rock Hall celebration

April 13, 2012 - Andy Gray
Give credit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for making its induction festivities a true community event.

In addition to the pricy ceremony and the exclusive parties surrounding it, the Rock Hall has given folks who never could afford a ticket to the main event a way to feel like they are part of the celebration.

After affordable shows earlier this week featuring DJ Girl Talk and a salute to gospel star Kirk Franklin, the Rock Hall distributed 15,000 tickets for a free concert with Cleveland hip hop star Kid Cudi, Rock Hall inductee George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic and genre-blending teen act Kids These Days at Quicken Loans Arena.

About 12,000 folks showed up, although those who were expecting a late start and a long night from P-Funk were in for a rude surprise. Clinton was the middle act, not the headliner. The band took the stage just after 8 p.m. Thursday and played an hour-long set.

Clinton almost was unrecognizable. His long multi-colored braids have been shorn, and the 70-year-old frontman was dressed in a shiny silver/grey suit with a red shirt and black fedora.

Clinton serves as toastmaster over a huge ensemble of colorfully dressed singers, dancers, musicians and one buff contortionist wearing furry white pants (and not much else). The set was about a third as long as the average P-Funk show, but the compressed time didn’t seem to hurt the band. The musicians just delivered a concentrated dose of funk with favorites like “Flashlight,” “One Nation Under a Groove” and “Give Up the Funk” flowing into one seamless groove.

Kids These Days joined P-Funk for the end of its set, and the seven teens looked like they were having a great time with Clinton, just as they did in their own half-hour set to open the night.

At times the band feels like odd amalgamation that came together in the Fame cafeteria – the rapper spitting rhymes over the Black Keys-style blues guitar player with backing vocals from the female keyboard player who sounds a little like Norah Jones (until she busts out a lead vocal on “Walkin’ Down the Line” that sounds more like Etta James), along with a killer drummer and a couple horn players joining in too.

The mashup didn’t work on every song, but it was impressive when it did.

Headliner Kid Cudi, wearing a Tribe hat and a sleeveless black hoodie, got a warm reaction from the hometown crowd as he performed such tracks as “Ghost,” “Teleport 2 Me” and “Soundtrack to My Life” backed by a three-piece band.

The only minor misstep of the night might have come from Rock Hall President and CEO Terry Stewart. After Clinton left the stage, Stewart said there is a “special guest here tonight.” Considering all of the celebrities coming to down for Saturday’s event, my mind started racing, wondering who it might be.

“You usually see him at Cavs games,” he added. Could it be Cavs minority owner Usher?

No, it was Cavs’ mascot Moondog. That’s not quite the special guest I was hoping for. But the regularly scheduled performers were special enough.


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