When someone passes away, as long as we find ways to embrace their memory, we keep them alive in our hearts. With guest vocalists André Cymone, Kip Blackshire, and Mackenzie Green, the New Power Generation kept Prince’s memory alive on Friday night amidst the chaos of Super Bowl LII in downtown Minneapolis.
Right in the heart of Nicollet Mall, the sold-out crowd that made its way to the Dakota Jazz Club kept to its beat when the New Power Generation shared Prince’s songs. The stage, as cozy as it already is, was made even more cozy with a rotating cast of 14 members shaking the whole stage and getting people out of their seats, belying the idea that a “jazz club” is strictly for discreet sipping and tasteful soloing.
Like a couple that could finish each other’s sentences, the band knew where each member was going in each part of the songs. They epitomize the top level of musicians representing the legacy of the Minneapolis Sound. What truly showcased their talent was when they moved off course and melted into jam sessions that allowed each performer to shine.
While the night was still young, Green sang “Nothing Compares 2 U” and broke hearts when he reminded us the gamut of emotions one goes through in the early stages of a breakup. Green, Cymone, and Blackshire each embodied Prince in their performances, often picking out certain audience members to sing to and making them feel as if they were they only two in the room. If you weren’t pregnant before you entered the room Friday night, you will most likely be expecting nine months from now.
As if to ensure people kept to the right beat, Blackshire (kindly) reminded the audience to clap “on the two and four” before launching into “7.” With the show coming to a close, the unmistakable organ chords of “Let’s Go Crazy” invited the audience to do just that. Seats were abandoned and the floor of the Dakota strained under the weight of the makeshift dance party.
With the spirit of Prince filling the room to all the corners of the club, the New Power Generation’s encore of “Purple Rain” once again had the crowd on its feet, arms raised to the sky. The sad but hopeful song is in its own way a religious experience, letting us think that Prince is just waiting to one day guide us to the purple rain.
Note: This review describes last night’s 7:00 p.m. performance; the photographs were taken at the subsequent 9:30 p.m. show.