Review: We Were Funky Live at the Encore Theater
by William Penn
We Were Funky Live is a raw, rocking, rollin’ musical tribute to some of the greatest musical artists of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Producer, Creator, and Artistic Director Rod Whittaker has pulled together some of the most talented singers and musicians the world has to offer to celebrate the musical legacy of America’s legendary bands and artists. From the classic sounds of the Funk Brothers of Motown that backed some of our most famous icons including Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, to the Philadelphia sound repped by the O’Jays and Labelle, all the way to the genius of Stevie Wonder, We Were Funky Live covers 3 decades of the greatest sounds ever produced.
The band is composed of seasoned musicians who have been perfecting their craft and performing most of these tunes for several decades—thus they are super-tight and serve up each song both effortlessly and authentically. From the shows opening, you know you are in for a hot sparkly sequined-adorned night of dance, costume, and spectacle. Vocalists Nadiyah Holder, Dicharisse Tyson, and Nica Nashae hold down the leads and harmonies like crystal bells through Boogie Wonderland, Donna Summer’s Bad Girl, Want Ads, Labelle’s sexy anthem Lady Marmalade, and Atlanta’s own TLC’s classic hit Scrubs. American Idol’s Nica Nishae belts out Aretha Franklin’s Dr. Feelgood in a manner truly befitting and worthy of the Queen of Soul— it’s what we call SANGIN in the biz.
Vocalist Candice Lauren delivers up a smoking version of Alicia Bridges’ 1978 Disco hit I Love The Nightlife, and singer Austin Taylor follows with truly funky renditions of That’s The Way (uh huh uh huh) I like It, by none other than the funky prince himself, KC and the Sunshine Band. All the leads through-out the show are delivered with deliberate interpretations that thoroughly honor the talent of the original recording artists.
In addition to the show’s incredible musical talent, stagehand Harry Nixon keeps the audience in stitches through-out the performance with his brilliant comic antics of a stagehand trying to get into the act. Drummer Dwight Smith, Keyboardist and Bassist Tim James, and Guitarist Steven Rollins provide a rock-solid foundation for two hours of super-funk. The horn trio Roc Lovelace, Menes Ray and Fleetwood Melson keep it sanctified and syncopated, and Menes and Fleetwood also double-up to absolutely kill it as two of Hip-Hops greatest talents House of Pain and Tupac Shakur. Once Stevie Wonder, performed by Fleetwood Melson, glided on to the stage by way of a rolling platform, the show took off into the stratosphere and never came down until the very end.
Costume designer Saquata Delanoy has truly outdone herself by providing, authentic get-up of each era for every artists featured, and she doubles as video producer as well by projecting scenes, video skits and other design elements on to LED screens.
All in all you will be privy to a great night of fabulous music and outstanding performances, which is a fitting homage to the brilliance of the music from this vintage time in America’s history.