PHOTOS: Bootsy Collins, P-Funk stars at the Boulder Theater - Reverb

Live review: Bootsy Collins @ the Boulder Theater

Bootsy Collins is, without a doubt, the happiest man in the world. His unending, huge and encompassing grin not only matched his enthusiasm onstage at the Boulder Theater Monday night, it proved highly infectious. The only question was whether the funk pulled energy from that grin, or the grin pulled it’s vitality from the funk. Ultimately, it really made no difference while the theater was filled with groove, swaying and bouncing.

Backed by his huge, 13-piece band — and topped by a tremendous collection of hats — Collins produced the funk for a vibrant (though small) crowd for more than two hours, and included a handful of the original P-Funk All Stars along for the ride. Among them were Bernie Worrell, Blackbyrd McKnight, Razor Sharp Johnson and Frankie Kash, as well as Colonel Hardgroove from Public Enemy, and more — all dressed in P-Funk finery and delivering the funk, pure and uncut.

Collins left the stage late in the set and let backup singer Kyle Jason led the band in a rousing “Don’t Take My Funk,” an anthemic plea to keep the funk alive. Dressed in a pressed suit topped with a matching sharp fedora, Jason approached a faithful representation of James Brown as he led the room. When Collins returned, his smile even bigger and more hypnotizing than before, they played “One Nation Under A Groove,” which ignited the audience to another level.

During a long call-and-response full of Funk-Mob aphorisms like “Free your mind,” from the stage, “… AND YOUR ASS WILL FOLLOW!” from the audience, he climbed down from the stage and circulated among adoring fans. Meanwhile the group onstage led us in furiously chanting “Ain’t no party like a P-Funk party, ‘cause a P-funk party don’t stop!” By this time, just about the entire theater was hopping or flailing wildly, all at the same time, ensconced in a frenzied groove.

Collins made his show a plea for live music towards the set’s end. As he introduced all the stars in the band, he encouraged them to “.. touch the people, so they know we’re real up here.” He waxed about the power of live music, saying “This is what we need, to get back to live funkin’ music…and gettin’ lost,” and then he mused about pre-GPS times, when “gettin’ lost was a chance for adventure!”

Before they all left the stage, Collins thanked the crowd, and reminded us that the band “just came here to ‘P’ on your afro!” After that, the people screeched and whistled as if they were willing to stay all night. waiting for an encore that didn’t come.

There was really no need for one — Bootsy got his message across.

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at DenverThread.com, and his giglist at Gigbot.

Tina Hagerling is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. Check out more of her concert photography.

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