As Floyd Mayweather was doing what he does best this past Saturday, collecting money and boxing titles, music fans poured into entertainment icon Prince’s legendary Chanhassen, Minnesota recording complex known as Paisley Park.
Those in attendance were hoping to experience the magic that often happens during these spontaneously announced studio gatherings that have occurred with increasing frequency in recent weeks. The occasion this time was billed as a DANCE RALLY 4 PEACE ‘ announced late Friday afternoon via Twitter.
The event was in tribute to the outpouring of violence that has occupied many parts of the US, particularly Baltimore. On the invitation flyer, fans were invited to “Wear Something Gray” in honor of Freddie Gray. Prior to the event, social media chatter reflected that many fans were eager for a chance to hear the debut of Prince’s new protest song, “Baltimore,” the details of which surfaced late last week.
Although the highly anticipated song wasn’t debuted Saturday night, what fans got instead was something entirely special ‘ a near hour-long live performance by Prince and his funk-rock group 3RDEYEGIRL. The band blasted through a set of music carefully chosen to mark the occasion. Prince took the stage after Midnight, echoing tributary sentiments to the crowd saying “RIP to those lost” and “Thanks for wearing Gray.”
The band then launched into a six-song set, starting with a blistering rendition of the socially charged track, “Chaos & Disorder” ‘ the lyric refrain, “Chaos & Disorder ruinin’ my world today” a clear reference to recent events. From there, the band moved into a poignant rendition of “Dreamer,” during which Prince seemed to channel emotions of all types, first through a screaming electric guitar solo, and later through an extended improvised section where he played two keyboards simultaneously ‘ drawing the audience into a dream like state through repeated rhythmic and melodic phrases.
With giant colorful projections bathing the musicians and stage in light, the band moved into incendiary versions of “Crimson & Clover” and “Guitar,” before closing the initial set with the massive instrumental funk-rock jam “PLECTRUMELECTRUM” (the title track from Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL’s recently released chart-topping debut album). After minutes of cheering, Prince took the stage for a very welcomed encore.
The final song started with a funky hip-hop drum loop. Prince then took up the bass and began playing improvised phrases on top of the rhythm. After a few moments of groovy funk bass playing, he stepped to the microphone and sang to the crowd: “U pictured a rainbow, but Eye held it in my hands. U had flashes, but Eye saw the whole plan.” What followed was an unexpected and improvised version of the Waterboys hit, “The Whole of The Moon”. Following a lively call and response period with the crowd, at Prince’s behest a young woman walked to the front of the stage and began singing her heart out. That woman was Detroit-born, Chicago-based Eryn Allen Kane, a singer who was invited to Paisley Park to record vocals on the new song “Baltimore.”
Contrary to reports that it was completed last week, Prince is taking time with the song to make it very special. Fittingly, the live set ended with Prince inviting the audience into a communal chant of “Baltimore. Peace 4 ever more.”
Release plans for Prince’s new song, “Baltimore,” have yet to be announced, but fans are encouraged to stay tuned for more information. All will be revealed in time.
Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL