“Soul Train” ended in 2006 after a 35-season run and since then, there have been no revivals of it or any other musical variety show of its kind.
Lakeside and Con Funk Shun’s concert proved that the audience for it is still out there and willing to show up.
Older generations of funk lovers congregated at the WCOL Celeste Center at the Ohio State Fair Saturday night to travel back in time. Courtesy of AEP Ohio, four lucky concert goers were promoted to the front row to dance the night away.
Lakeside, formed in Dayton is best-known for its 1980 No. 1 R&B hit, “Fantastic Voyage,” although they have had a long and successful career. Their nine albums were released from 1977 through 1990.
Con Funk Shun started in their hometown of Vallejo, California. The band wound up in Memphis in the mid-’70s and attracted the attention of Mercury Records. Their second LP, “Secrets”, exploded to Gold status. The LP featured the R&B No. 1 Hit Single, “Ffun.” (it is spelled this way on purpose) By 1979, with charting albums “Loveshine” and “Candy”, Con Funk Shun was well on its way.
Con Funk Shun boards concertgoers on the ‘Love’s Train’
Con Funk Shun opened the show by marching onto the stage, instruments in hand, to perform “Ffun.”
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Members of the band would sometimes be carrying two instruments at once. Switching effortlessly between a saxophone to a flute or from a trumpet to a tambourine with the sole objective to captivate the crowd.
They commanded the “clap your hands” along to their 1978 Top 5 R&B hit “Shake & Dance With Me.” Their choreography was stellar and smooth, showing their influences of Sly the Family Stone and James Brown.
Felton Pilate, who has been with the group since its inception, showcased his insane falsetto on their 1980 hit “Got To Be Enough.”
Pilate is also known for his production on MC Hammer’s “Too Legit To Quit” album.
The band took time to acknowledge the great year they have had in 2022. Pilate announced that they will have a new Christmas album out in October and a full-length album is due by Valentine’s Day 2023.
After performing 1982’s “Straight From the Heart”, they got into their biggest hit “Love’s Train.” It has been covered by Dru Hill and, most recently, by Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak (the period is a part of his stage name) as a part of their duo Silk Sonic.
Con Funk Shun gave a shout out to Silk Sonic for making their initial “album cut” into a smash hit.
Delivering a superb, high-energy show with electrifying choreography, six-part vocal harmonies, and a dash of humor, Con Funk Shun had the crowd up on their feet with hits like “Let’s Ride and Slide,” “Too Tight” and ” Chase Me.”
Member Michael Cooper mentioned throughout the show that he was looking for the party people and it is safe to say, he found them.
More than half the crowd gave Con Funk Shun a standing ovation when they bid adieu to the stage.
Lakeside turns it up ‘All the Way Live’
Lakeside frontman Captain Mark Wood was dazzling from the moment he stepped onstage with his gold sequined jacket and captain’s hat to open their set with their 1980 hit “Your Love Is On the One.”
With his youthful energy, microphone stand kicks and tricks, Wood ordered the crowd to get loud with 1983’s “Turn Up the Music.”
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The group turned it up another notch with their 1978 hit “It’s All the Way Live,” easily the standout number of the show. Lead guitarist Otis Stokes’ guitar solo seemed to last forever and it still didn’t seem to go long enough. The crowd sang and stomped along in the stands.
They performed a new song “All About Family” and Wood dedicated the song to the crowd.
“It takes all of us to be called a family,” Wood said. “This song is about my favorite subject. We have a lot of family here tonight, I love you. The way I was raised had a great impact on us. God loves each and every one of you.”
Getting visibly emotional, Wood’s voice was as spry and acrobatic as his onstage persona. As he sang “Too many guns in the country/So much in the world to carry on,” there was a small group of boos in the crowd.
But Wood’s emotional weight of the performance brought the rest of the crowd to silence.
Switching gears, Wood dedicated their next song “If I Didn’t Have You” to his “favorite species on the planet.” He requested that all the men in the audience sing to their significant others.
Following up with “Something About That Woman,” Wood sang back and forth with the crowd while his background singers stepped to the beat flawlessly.
Wood got on the keyboard to perform their cover of “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” which reached the top five of the Billboard R&B charts in 1982.
After taking the audience on a trip to “Jam Boogie Island,” they closed out with their best-known hit “Fantastic Voyage.”
As the audience danced the night away, smartphones lit up across the venue and Wood closed out the show by throwing his literal towel into the front row, bringing an end to the show and the Ohio State Fair concert series for the summer.
David Kwiatkowski is a features intern for The Columbus Dispatch. You can reach him on Twitterr @kwiatkdm or his email firstname.lastname@example.org.