Prince Tribute: Chaka Khan & Stevie Wonder Headline Five Hour Concert
“We love you Prince.”
The words were a recurring testament to Prince‘s everlasting legacy, as a number of musicians both past and present paid tribute to the one and only Purple One in his hometown, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Held at the Xcel Energy Center in Downtown St. Paul, the concert began with Mint Condition, where the R&B band went through a three song set that concluded with “When Doves Cry.”
Morris Day & The Time followed after with Day going through the hits and ending his set with the group’s hit song “Jungle Love.” With choreographed dance moves done between himself and his band, Day transported audience members back into the days of the ’80s.
Day’s performance foreshadowed what was to come throughout the evening’s festivities: a reminder that although Prince had his own catalog of songs, he also played a part in the artistry of people both in and outside of Minneapolis.
Judith Hill, Liv Warfield, Marva King, Kip Blackshire, Elisa Fiorillo Dease — a roster of Prince affiliated artists and proteges took the stage to perform his songs, accompanied by both the first and late iterations of the New Power Generation.
However, the concert’s momentum fluctuated throughout the night, with many of the Prince unaffiliated guest performers offering underwhelming sets. Former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger performed Vanity 6‘s “Nasty Girl,” while pop star Tori Kelly did “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Diamonds and Pearls.”
Although the sets spoke to the diversity of Prince’s influence some felt unnecessary, and affected the pacing of the show overall, which was scheduled to end at 11 but went on an hour longer.
Still, there were incredible moments: Bilal performing “The Beautiful Ones” and “If I Was Your Girlfriend”; Luke James performing “Do Me, Baby” and “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World”; Doug E. Fresh beatboxing to “Housequake”; and, of course, Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder.
The former did “Betcha,” “Sweet Thing,” “I Feel For You” and “1999,” sharing the stage with Stevie for the last two. Although “1999” started off rough the two managed to redeem their rendition before it was over.
But Stevie was truly the most pivotal part of the concert. Starting off his set with Donny Hathaway‘s “We’ll All Be Free,” the iconic artist then did an extended jam of “Superstitious” dedicated to Prince, happily swaying behind a keyboard at the center of the stage. After leaving the stage he returned one more time for an encore of “Purple Rain.”
Here, the moment was surreal: a vocal track of Prince singing one of his most memorable songs, a visibly distraught and tearful Stevie onstage, unable to bring the microphone to his mouth.
As the audience was bathed in purple depending on where you looked you could see the tears, friends and lovers embracing one another, celebrating and grieving a man that, as Stevie said before the night was finished “had so many plans to make this world a better place to live in.”
The Prince tribute show was a testament to that: an artist that unified so many people through his music. As everyone exited the Xcel Energy Center, Prince’s infamous love symbol shined like a beacon outside of the venue.
Six months after his death and a world in which Prince isn’t with us, is still something many of us are trying to accept. What happens going forward with Prince’s legacy is unsure for now, but this was an eulogy that Prince himself probably would have enjoyed.