Local Current Blog

Prince opens his run of Dakota shows with a funky instrumental jam

A ticket from Prince's show, as tweeted by @gina_reis

Prince is holding down a three-night stand and playing six separate shows at the Dakota Jazz Club this week. Current host Jade was on the scene at last night’s 11 p.m. show and filed a recap of her experience to give us a taste of what’s to come.

If this was the “audition” I can’t wait to see what the “surprise” is on Friday.

Starting promptly at 11 p.m. a chorus of catcalls fell from the mouths of the 275-deep crowd at the Dakota Jazz Club as Prince raised a baton in the air and began to lead six horn players in a march around the packed venue.

After looping through the diverse crowd, which ranged from old men in sweatshirts to twentysomethings in sequins to middle aged women in business suits, Prince and the horn section hopped on stage to join bassist Andrew Gouche, pianist Cassandra O’Neal, and the man of the night, drummer Ronald Bruner. The group quickly fell into a groove, with Prince periodically pointing to different players to have them take the lead.

Prince was clearly in his element. Dressed in a white and brown velour jumpsuit, round sunglasses, and gold light-up kicks (think L.A Gears with red flashing lights), Prince bounced between keys and guitar and constantly challenged the Grammy-winning drummer to push himself further. Thirty minutes in Prince really started to enjoy himself, smiling, dancing, and enticing the crowd to clap or snap depending on his mood.

The night was sold to the audience as an “audition” for Bruner. But, considering it was Prince who called Bruner out of the blue a little over a week ago, the drummer was showing confidence and even a little bravado with his drum stick twirling. At one point Prince stopped playing the piano and just stared at Bruner with a wide smile on his face, then jumped up with excitement after a particularly awesome solo.

Once the band was feeling the right vibe and Prince was happy, the audition turned into more of a jam of funk, soul, blues and jazz. There was an improv around James Brown’s “I Don’t Want No Body To Give Me Nothing” with Prince singing and asking the dancing crowd to sing along.  A highlight of the night showed Prince showcasing his humor by playing the intro to “When You Were Mine” then stopping, smiling shyly around the room, and murmuring “Psych.”

By the end of the 90-minute set everyone in the Dakota was on their feet dancing to a bluesy jam led by the horn section. The band waved goodnight and exited, but after a 5-minute standing ovation came back out for another jam with Prince back on keys. A final bow and a two handed air kiss from Prince signaled to his DJ Rashida that she should start spinning and wrap up night one of Prince’s series. –Jade

Check back tomorrow and Saturday for recaps of Thursday’s “jam” and Friday’s “surprise.” And listen in to The Current’s Morning Show during Music News for Jade and Andrea’s live reactions to the shows on Thursday and Friday at 9 a.m.

Here are some tweets from last night:

#Prince playing the first of 6 shows tonight @DakotaJazzClub

It's happening. #prince @dakotajazzclub