The Funky Meters 2.8.2014

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Photos & Words By Kevin Hahn

There are legends, and then there are what most people call “The Originators” or “Creators” of whatever one may be talking about. In my 24 years on this planet, I have not had many opportunities to see “The Original” of any of my favorite music groups, venues, or even types of music. It seems as if these days most musical genres are turning towards what is most popular or what sells the most records. But there are a few groups who are trying to keep as close to the “Original” of what they are creating as possible. One such group is the Funky Meters, led by Original Meter members, Art Neville and George Porter Jr. To be given the chance to see these two men play together is a very special thing, and most music fans around the world do not get this chance often. Thankfully I live in Denver, which in my opinion has one of the best/most up-and-coming music scenes in the world.

Art Neville is still going at 76 years young. No he doesn’t have the chops that he once could display and his voice isn’t much to listen to either, but his passion for being in front of hundreds of screaming fans is still quite evident. Being led the entire evening on the Cervantes stage from cues from Mr. George Porter Jr., Art tried his best to stay in key while bobbing his head in appreciation of what was transpiring on stage in front of him. Neville still has that glorious smile that millions of fans have become accustomed to, yet his fragile state of being is not the easiest to watch when trying to get down to some good ole New Orleans funk. Luckily, the Funky Meters have Neville’s best buddy George Porter Jr. leading the rhythmic charge with his outstanding bass lines and just downright fun way of playing music. Porter, as I have said numerous times before, is not only one of the most talented musicians I have been lucky enough to see live, but the unique way in which he handles himself on stage is a sight to see.

George roams around the stage with a genuine purpose, throwing nasty bass lines in front of a different band member from time to time that only leads to a higher level of improvisation for the music audience. In this particular group, George Porter Jr. is joined by guitar badass Brian Stoltz, who comes from the former “Neville Brothers” group, and Russell Batiste Jr. on drums, who honestly is not my favorite drummer to watch/listen to, but he has a great time on stage and brings a good energy to the performance. Stoltz, however, is extremely talented on the electric guitar and can even sing when covers such as The Beatles “Come Together” or Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” are thrown into the mix. PBS (Porter, Batiste, Stoltz) are a great trio and have a very harmonious sounding connection on stage, even if Neville seems to just be making random sounds from time to time. But, songs such as “Cissy Strut,” “Cardova,” “Too Funky” and the New Orleans classic “Iko Iko” all were fantastic as Porter Jr. led the group through some of the Meters legendary hits.

The real highlight of the night for me personally, was hands down one of the hardest to watch musical moments I have seen in a long time. During the Meters true hit “Ain’t No Use” Art Neville was given the chance to show us that he can still sing the song that made him one of the most famous funk keyboardists of all time, and he failed miserably. He was off key, forgot most of the lyrics, and honestly should have been escorted off stage. But, George Porter Jr. kept a smile on his face and raged through the immensely popular song with some of the most intense musical gusto I have ever seen. Porter picked up the vocal duties half way through the song and directed Neville to jump from “A-Flat” to “E-Minor” (or whatever it was) with a sense of pride that the 76 year old was still trying his best to hold in there. It was a tearful moment for some, but joyous for others, as the true feeling of being in front of two real music “Legends” was taking place right in front of our eyes.

I walked away from Cervantes Masterpiece last Friday with a huge smile (almost hurting my cheeks) running across my face because I knew that I had just witnessed something absolutely amazing. Yes, the Funky Meters may be back next year to rage our great state of Colorado, but one never knows when someone like Art Neville may stop touring and retire. Do yourself a favor and go and see these guys play whenever possible, as it may not continue for much longer. They still can bring some serious funk-age and definitely know how to have a great time when playing in front of an audience who is there to respect their musical heritage. These men are legends and will continue to be so long into the future.

Kevin's Photo Gallery

Setlist: Too Funky > All I Do Everyday > Trick Bag > Come Together > He Bite Me > My Name in Lights > Cissy Pickup > Cissy Strut > Soul Island > (bass mix it up), Cardova > Get Out My life Woman > Cissy Endin’ > Big Chief > Bass Solo > Just A Little Bit > Just kissed my baby > IKO IKO > Feel Like Funkin It Up (RP Tease) > Ain't No Use

Encoré: Eleanor Rigby (tease), Art's bag of funk Bo Diddley > Hand Jive > Fiyo on the Bayou > Sunshine of Your Love > Look A Py-Py


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