New Power Generation performed four sets in two nights at the recently reopened Dakota this past Thursday and Friday. The second Friday night show was my first time back in the Dakota since my very first experience at the venue, my 21st birthday, in February of 2020. Spending my birthday surrounded by music lovers, incredible talent, and one of my very first legal cocktails is something that I’ve cherished deeply ever since. My return on Friday was a much-needed reminder of the power and joy of live music and an exciting tease for what’s next to come at the recently reopened Dakota, one of the last places that Prince visited before his death in 2016.
New Power Generation fans came dressed to kill in some of the finest sparkly dresses and Love Symbol-emblazoned garb that I’ve ever seen. This expressive style was shared by the audience and New Power Generation alike. Starting their set with an ear-piercing tune-up, they transitioned into a mellow and breezy intro, releasing any tension in the audience like a deep exhale after holding your breath. This new sense of clarity gave vocalist Tony Mosely the perfect environment to use his resonant voice to ruminate on the state of our society with the audience during their performance of “Welcome 2 America,” the title track from Prince’s most recent posthumous album.
New Power Generation did not let up once during their fourth set in 24 hours at the Dakota. They delivered memorable performances and left no room for lulls even on the slower tracks. Lead vocalist MacKenzie stretched his voice with a staggering falsetto, putting his own spin on classic Prince tracks. During “Black Sweat,” he slowly unbuttoned his shirt and sauntered about the stage, gyrating against the mic stand and working up the same sweat that he was singing about. I had to write my notes frantically so my eyes wouldn’t miss out on the band’s swaggering dance moves and the audience’s reactions. Had I blinked just once I would’ve missed seeing a person strip off a Love Symbol-bedazzled trench coat to reveal another layer of Prince merch like a superhero, or another audience member dancing their heart out by the sound booth, making sure they were in the band’s line of sight.
Under the purple lights of the Dakota, New Power Generation took great care to pay homage to Prince during a show that fell on the 30th anniversary of Diamonds and Pearls. Committing to continue to honor his legacy and sharing anecdotes with the audience about Prince’s brutal honesty with his band about whether tracks like “Lady Cab Driver” should be played live. New Power Generation, all legendary musicians, showed that Prince’s legacy will never die.
By the end of the night, the entirety of the club was up out of their seats, dancing along with the band’s electric performance. Two men dressed in all white and wearing shades, looked the part of quintessential cool jazz club guys. They had barely flinched all night, sitting stoically while the audience clapped along. Suddenly, I noticed they were gone from their seats and up on stage with the band, dancing with them to “Baby I’m a Star,” the last song of the night.
Morris Hayes, keyboardist and former musical director for Prince, spoke candidly to the audience about how it felt to be back in the Dakota after so long. He shared, “We’re so happy to be here with humans. We know COVID’s out there, and we’re a little scared, but we’re here and happy.” The crowd, all required to show proof of vaccination or negative test per the Dakota’s policy, cheered in agreement.
New Power Generation’s Friday night show was a much-needed catharsis for the past year’s lack of live music and Minneapolitans’ innate desire to honor the legacy of Prince. After the show, Tony Mosely told me that Friday night’s show was his favorite out of the four that they performed. The ecstasy and camaraderie of the band were visible from every corner of the venue. New Power Generation is glad to be back, and those of us at the Dakota were glad to have them back, after such a long break.
Welcome 2 America (Prince cover)
17 Days (Prince cover)
Sexy M.F. (Prince cover)
Call My Name (Prince cover)
When She Comes (Prince cover)
Count the Days (Prince cover)
Deuce & a Quarter
Call the Law
Lady Cab Driver (Prince cover)
Black Sweat (Prince cover)
7 (Prince cover)
Live 4 Love (Prince cover)
Gett Off (Prince cover)
Days of Wild (Prince cover)
Baby I’m a Star (Prince cover)
New Power Generation