The Official Prince Tribute Show at Xcel Energy Center
Featuring: Stevie Wonder, Morris Day & the Time, Chaka Kahn, Doug E. Fresh, Tori Kelly
Jessie J., Nicole Scherzinger, Mint Condition, Judith Hill, Liv Warfield, Bilal, Luke James
October 13, 2016
Review by: Caleb Baumgartner
Photo's: Patrick Dunn
The difficulties surrounding last night’s Official Prince Tribute event at Xcel Energy Center are common knowledge at this point. From one cancellation to another, the complete bill was in a constant state of flux that may have left fans with a great deal of doubt regarding the show they were going to get.
In many ways, these troubles translated over to the show. The early stages of the event felt off. Not to say that the early acts failed in any way to bring a quality sound. Both Mint Condition and Morris Day and the Time delivered satisfying (if very brief) performances that set the tone for how the evening would go musically, but something about the pace in the early going felt as though all of this was put together and agreed upon at the very last minute (which it very likely was). Awkward transitions between performers hampered the flow of the event early on, but in time, there emerged an ease in performance that likely grew out of an increased confidence fueled by an incredibly enthusiastic crowd.
To say this crowd was enthusiastic may be something of an understatement. They were wild, they were vocal, they sang along to virtually every song and many danced not just like no one was watching, but like everyone but them was blind. If these people felt disappointed by the lineup, you would never have known. Fans delighted in virtually every track, but were virtually rapturous for Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder’s fantastic take on “1999” and Bilal’s amazing rendition of “The Beautiful Ones.” These people expressed their love on a near-constant basis, displaying an exhausting amount of energy fueled by their connection to Prince’s music and the special nature of this event. For those pessimistic about this event, being there the moment that the connection between the crowd and the performers solidified would have put you at ease. It became clear when things started picking up that this was an act of love on behalf of both fans and artists, that this was a celebration of Prince’s life through a series of increasingly enjoyable performances.
In spite of the many difficulties surrounding this event, it succeeded in many ways to both honor and solidify Prince’s legacy. The promise of his music and the spirit of the event united an incredibly diverse crowd which delighted in an evening of rich performances. While many Minnesotans have already found a degree of closure to Prince’s death through various tribute shows or First Ave dance nights, the Official Prince Tribute provided a large-scale meeting ground for people from all over to gather and celebrate in their own way, and if the crowd response was any indication, this event succeeded in providing fans with something of a proper goodbye to the legendary icon.