Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Prince Tribute show. Even luckier, I was able to attend the after party at The Muse.
The Tribune was at the Excel Center. It was a big ol’ production. I knew half of the performers. The headliner was Stevie Wonder and it was amazing to hear him sing Very Superstitious. He is Stevie Wonder after all. It was less amazing to hear him sing 1999 – because he isn’t Prince.
Since Prince’s death, and even before, I have heard some pretty amazing covers of Prince songs. Glen Hansard singing Sign of the Times while he was in town a few years ago stands out. And Bob Mould doing When you Were Mine at First Avenue the night after Prince died. Both performances were more like nonobligatory homages. I know Wonder was at a Prince Tribune but it just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t his song.
That being said, it was fun to see some old school Prince colleagues take the stage – from members of the New Power Generation to Morris Day and the Time, Judith Hill, Andre Cymone, Chaka Khan, 3rdeyegirl and others. It was touching to see Mayte Garcia dance.
Christina Aguilera and John Mayer were slated to appear; neither did. I think Tori Kelly was supposed to be a parallel substitute – except I had no idea of who she was and still don’t know what the connection to Prince is.
The show lasted more than five hours, with one brief intermission. That was amazing. It was fun to see the Prince video interspersed through the show. It was interesting to have Prince audio for Purple Rain. I mean interesting in the most Minnesota way – except that I need to recognize that I didn’t love when someone else sang 1999 and didn’t love when they used his recorded voice. I think in some ways, it was a realization that he is irreplaceable. In that way the show was bitter.
But the after party was sweet. All of the musicians with a Prince connection seemed to make from downtown St Paul to the Minneapolis North Loop to fit on the small stage of The Muse. While the official Tribute felt like a nod to the work of Prince the after party felt like glimpse at the impact he has had and will continue to have on music.
It was fun to see Omarr Baker introduce Mayor Hodges to declare the official Price Day – mostly because it was so much fun to see Omar in his element. Amidst the crowd were many, deep connections to Prince and Paisley Park – and to be fair I wouldn’t have known most of them so it was fun to be with people who did.
It felt like a special night. It seemed like here the musicians (same list I had before and add a few others like Sonny Thompson and Mono Neon) played to play. No one needed a teleprompter. No one seemed to even remember the five hour show preceding the party. The party ended at 4 am with a promise of more music throughout the weekend. I was lucky to be there for part of it.